At the start of each quarter at the community college, or semester at the high school, all three instructors gave a 12-Item Grit Survey developed by Angela Duckworth, as well as a Math Perceptions Survey. Our goal was to measure the impact of our cultural interventions. After some question as to the validity of the Math Perceptions Survey we decided to include a new survey in Fall 2016 that we are calling the Student Self Knowledge Survey. The goal is that this new survey will hopefully replace the Math Perceptions Survey. The initial plan was to give these surveys at the start and end of each term to measure changes, however after collecting our first set of data we decided to add in a mid-term surveys as well.
Within the first week of class we all spent time establishing the desired classroom environment. This was the first part of our intervention. Setting up this environment was achieved in different ways but with lots of dialog between students. We all also decided to have our students reflect on an article about the Levels of Cognitive Demand, namely Memorization, Procedures without Connections, Procedures with Connections, and Doing Mathematics, within the first week of class.
To help us gather some anecdotal evidence, we all agreed to give three tasks per quarter that we would assess on a common rubric focused more on process and communication, than on answers. These tasks required a higher level of perseverance than most other classroom tasks and thus gave us a way to formatively assess whether our students were “sticking with it” more as the course progressed. These tasks were different for each of us, but the rubric was consistent.
After each round of interventions (we have now completed three iterations and are nearing the end of our fourth) we met to reflect on our data results, refine our interventions and measuring tools, and start prepare for the next iteration.
With us each having different classrooms and different instructional styles there were some differences in our interventions as well. Jessica started each quarter of her Algebra I courses (Winter 16, Spring 16) with the “Week of Inspirational Math” activities and videos from Jo Boaler’s youcubed.org site. When she taught Algebra III (Fall 16), she chose to only include the videos from the week of inspirational math without the supplemental activities. Also, beginning in Fall 16 she started to add regular (2-3 times per week) Number Talks in her classes from Ruth Parker and Cathy Humphrey’s “Making Number Talks Matter.” This quarter in Algebra II, she decided to use the videos again, but also required her students to enroll in an online six-lesson course, to supplement these first week lessons, which were spread out over the course of the quarter. Chris has also added Number Talks and the Stanford Mathematical Mindset class as required activities in Fall 16. Molly started each iteration with team building activities as well as activities designed to help students determine what behaviors assisted positive group work, and what behaviors hindered positive group interactions. Each unit of the Bridge to College course contains an additional lesson that refocuses students on these positive group norms and community building activities. Additionally, beginning in Fall 16, students were introduced to Number Talks weekly in class. All three instructors worked hard to provide in class opportunities for the students to talk about math.