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Additional Math Instructional Time through a Content Focus Class

Creating an extra semester’s worth of time to provide targeted math instruction

Context

Valor’s Math Content Focus Class (Focus) is a semester-long class taken by every middle school student, in addition to their Core Math Class (Core). With this additional class, students spend 50% more time (approximately 55 additional hours per year) learning and mastering grade-level, standards-based math content. This structure is achieved by hiring additional, full-time, Focus math teachers. Each of Valor’s schools has two dedicated Focus teachers who work with 6th and 8th grade students in the Fall and 5th and 7th grade students in the Spring.

Valor strategically identified and pulled out three to four weeks of grade-level math content into the Focus curriculum, allowing for more in-depth learning with foundational math concepts in the Core classes. The rest of semester is spent reviewing math concepts previously learned in the Core and Focus classes. Core and Focus teachers collaborate consistently throughout the year, leveraging data to determine additional math topics to be addressed via a mini lesson. Topics selected are often ones where more than 65% of students have yet to reach mastery.

For students who are advancing through grade-level math content, Valor created a 7th grade honors Focus class, where the Focus teacher embeds 8th grade math skills to prepare students for Algebra I.

The review component of Focus classes runs for 55 minutes and is comprised of three parts:

  • A five-minute ‘Do Now,’ targeting a skill, standard, or fluency exercise.
  • A 20-minute mini lesson, including targeted whole group instruction, partner and individual practice (with rapid feedback), and a short exit ticket.
  • Individual practice for the remainder of class, working on self-directed, self-paced online practice via playlists.

Student Does

  • Participates in whole group “Do Now,” mini-lesson, and exit ticket.
  • Works individually on self-selected and self-paced online playlists.
  • Tracks progress in math notebook.

Teacher Does

  • Collaborates with team (Core and Focus teachers) to analyze data and determine math standards to target in Focus class.
  • Leads mini lesson, giving rapid feedback during student practice.
  • Circulates during blended learning time, coaching students.
  • Pulls groups of students for targeted small group instruction.

Technology Does

  • Houses playlists for self-directed, self-paced learning.