kitchen table math, the sequel: preteaching saves the world

## Monday, May 7, 2007

### preteaching saves the world

Two tests after I began my new preteaching-not-reteaching regimen, Christopher has an average grade of 87.7 in his math class.

This is up from a C second quarter, a C+ 3rd quarter.

All from preteaching.

Ed says that with preteaching C. is getting "a second look."

The improvement we're seeing is almost bizarre.

I'm kicking myself for not thinking of this sooner, but otoh I wouldn't have predicted that simply having the second look occur in class instead of at home would have an effect of this (seeming) magnitude.

Plus I'm spending very little time on this -- maybe 10 or 15 minutes at most? I spend only a few minutes demonstrating and explaining the procedure; then C. does 2 or 3 problems, which take another 10 minutes.

I also have him do some practice equations from workbooks. That's part two: I'm having him try to gain speed at the foundational skills he's using in the class problems.

tutors and teachers

It's probably time for me to sit down and study Ericsson's "The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance," (easily found on Google) seeing as how it contains this passage:

Research in education reviewed by Bloom (1984) shows that when students are randomly assigned to instruction by a tutor or to conventional teaching, tutoring yields better performance by two standard deviations—the average tutored student performed at the 98th percentile of students taught with the conventional method. Interestingly, the correlation between prior achievement and achievement on the current course was reduced and corresponded to only about 6% of the variance for the tutored subjects as compared with around 36% for students taught with conventional methods.

Apparently we've moved from tutoring to tutorial.

We'll see.

preteaching saves the world
preteaching wonders of the world

TurbineGuy said...

Hopefully you have a way to see specifically what and when the teacher is going to be covering a particular skill.

I am not surprised about pre-teaching working better for you.

I imagine that your brief tutoring gives him enough insight into the subject that when it is presented in class, he can keep up with it.

Before, I imagine that he couldn't quite keep up with the pace of presentation, got frustrated and tuned out. Then when you tried to catch him up, he was mentally discouraged.

Now, you can initially present the concept at a pace that suits him. Now when he sees the teacher present the material, he is saying to himself... "I got this!"

Kudos to you.

Catherine Johnson said...

I imagine that your brief tutoring gives him enough insight into the subject that when it is presented in class, he can keep up with it.

Before, I imagine that he couldn't quite keep up with the pace of presentation, got frustrated and tuned out. Then when you tried to catch him up, he was mentally discouraged.

This is EXACTLY what's been happening --- this and a lot of noise & distraction in the room. The kids are all sitting in tables somehow....and it sounds as if there's a lot of ruckus.

Obviously, when I'm teaching one on one I'm constantly monitoring directly for whether he's following ---- and if he's not following I'm on his case, making him follow, and re-doing what I'm doing (or making it easier, etc.)

You're exactly right.

He's going to class with the right "prior knowledge" or familiarity with the topic or whatever it is that her presentation now works for him.

I also have him do some problems for me, so he's already DONE the stuff.

This really is great.

PaulaV said...

"He's going to class with the right "prior knowledge" or familiarity with the topic or whatever it is that her presentation now works for him."

My third grader is given a pre-test in class before each topic to see how much prior knowledge he has. He is tested in math and science. So far he has done well because he remembers the material from last year.

The frustrating part for me is that even if I preteach the material he still cannot understand the TERC math projects he has to do in class. His teacher commented that he is very logical, but not very good with spatial concepts...she was referring to his difficulty with lines of symmetry. That comment confused me because his highest score on the CogAT was spatial ability. He scored a 97.

EvilMathTeacher said...

Of course there is ruckus in the classroom. Students somehow don't think they have to tune in to the teacher. These disruptions are minor in the admin's minds. But that is just one more reason the kids are learning to their full potential.

I'm going to incorporate pre-teaching into my curriculum next year and encourage parents who want to help to do the same!

Time to re-read Ericsson and Wickelgren myself!
Thanks KTM! I love you guys!
You keep me alive. It has been such a rotten school-year.

EvilMathTeacher said...

Oops...it's early.

But that is just one more reason the kids are learning to their full potential.

The kids ARE NOT learning....

TurbineGuy said...

evilmathteacher,

That is a great idea about including a pre-teaching program in your curriculum.

As a parent, it would be really cool if on Fridays (or Mondays), we got home a sheet that told me what concepts our kids were going to learn on what day, (including one or two examples). Not all parents would use it, but it would help out the ones who were interested.

What I want is a teacher with a class blog who updates daily. Just a short note that said what was covered that day, what is coming up, and perhaps a list of upcoming homework assignments.

SteveH said...

I don't consider what I do pre-teaching because I don't look ahead in the book. (What does look ahead mean for EM?) I don't want to make sure that my son is good in Everyday Math. I want him to be good in math.

I'm not sure what pre-teaching means for teachers. One could say that spiraling in EM is a form of pre-teaching. However, if it means providing parents with all of the information and tools they need to get their kids ahead of the curve, then that would be nice - except for those kids who don't get pre-taught. It's bad enough now that schools expect parents to fill in all sorts of gaps and to make sure that learning gets done.

My opinion is that math is not difficult if you practice the important skills every day. You shouldn't need (require?) pre-teaching and you shouldn't require parents to go over math facts at home. Pre-teaching by parents is a guerrilla tactic. Pre-teaching by teachers is just teaching. Expecting parents to pre-teach is a no-no.

The implication of pre-teaching is that the material is covered too fast (or not properly) in class for some or all of the kids. Unfortunately, the kids who need pre-teaching the most probably don't get it.

Catherine Johnson said...

Steve's certainly right that parents shouldn't be expected to pre-teach.

otoh, I think there's reason to consider how the concept of preteaching can be incorporated into "real teaching"-----or "really existing teaching," as the case may be.

Any teacher teaching grades beyond, say, the 3rd grade faces a class filled with children who have different gaps in math knowledge.

The value-added research shows that even the best teacher can't make up for bad teachers (or, I would assume, bad curricula) that have gone before.

So....just on the issue of gaps alone, I think it's kosher to figure out how to use preteaching to move the kids ahead -- and I think it's kosher to ask whether parents can do it.

If they **can** do it, it's kosher to ask them to -- and to help them do it.

I've been mulling over how one could bring preteaching into the schools.

First of all, Engelmann's DI is the obvious answer: that is the sole curriculum I can think of where there's no need for preteaching, because everyone is properly placed in the curriculum.

ALSO: because Engelmann relies on "call and response," all of the kids are responding all of the time.

There's very little spacing out or disruptive ruckus in the classroom, because everyone's busy calling out answers.

I see DI as a means of delivering one-on-one teaching to a group.

But none of us is going to have a scripted math class any time soon. (My endless Carol Gambill mail-outs haven't sparked a teaching revolution here.)

So....how might a school incorporate the fact that one-on-one teaching is far more effective than group instruction into its school day.

One idea would be to start giving "preteaching" before the fact instead of "extra help" after the fact.

Our math teachers are spending hours giving "extra help," and extra help doesn't help.

It OBVIOUSLY doesn't help; extra help is like diets.

If diets worked everyone would be thin.

So...you could rejigger your extra help sessions to include - or shift to - a preteaching approach.

I think you also need to figure out a way to have kids "read the assignment" BEFORE CLASS.

This means that the assignment has to be readable by kids (not true of our math textbook).

I think that in this case parents should be asked to make sure their kids read the text. (That might mean the child has to do one or two problems after reading it, which means the parents would have the answer key....)

PaulaV said...

"Any teacher teaching grades beyond, say, the 3rd grade faces a class filled with children who have different gaps in math knowledge."

I think some of the third graders at our school certainly have gaps in their math knowledge. Some don't know the value of a quarter. Some are speeding through multiplication and division while others can barely keep up. There is a lot of differentiated instruction going on. The teachers are flying through the curriculum...one day fractions the next day decimals.

My son has trouble with directions and he has a rowdy class to boot so staying ahead of the curve is a must for him. It isn't that the math is difficult, but the chaos in the classroom makes it extremely difficult for him to pay attention. Plus, there is little one-to-one instruction and when it is given it is given hastily.

Anonymous said...

What Paula said.

I've seen that much difference in levels in Kindergarten classes. You'll have some children who can add and subract and know the value of money, while others don't realize that 16 is after 15.

With 20-something children and usually only one classroom aide, there's no way to cover everyone and no way to assume what they know because they are not really ability grouped anymore.

The actual lesson plan can only be directed at one particular level, so the kids that particular level doesn't target have to wing it with the various differentiation techniques the teacher has on hand. And that's if the teacher has recognized that the child is in a completely different place than the lesson plan level.

Dickey45 said...

Who is Carol Gambill?

PaulaV said...

Actually, my son's kindergarten class has one aide and regular parent volunteers who come in weekly. That's a great deal of help if you ask me.

I think some teachers (my son's included)know some kids are slipping through the cracks, but feel powerless to stop it. They have to keep plugging along or else.

I need to look for another school!