AERO MATH UPDATE by: Erma Anderson

“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth learning can be taught.” — Oscar Wilde
The 2021-2022 school year is underway!  As you return to this new year, whether, virtual, hybrid, or face to face, getting back to the classroom and reconnecting with students is always exciting.  No doubt this school year will be filled with many ups and downs, and we wanted to use this update to remind you that Project AERO looks forward to partnering with you as you “accelerate” the learning for all students.

The Guidance for 21-22 live binder is filled with the resources you will need to “plan your strategy to accelerate every student back to grade level over the next 3-5 years” (Chief Council State School Officers, National Governors Association). Accelerating students back to grade level means not rushing through the curriculum, rather using proven strategies that help students engage with the most critical work of their grade as quickly as possible. “The key to accelerating rather than remediating is determining the critical skills and concepts that students are missing and providing scaffolds that will bridge gaps while teaching the missing skills with surgical precision and efficiency“ (Learning Sciences International). In the live binder under the tab critical areas, you can find the critical areas for every grade level and secondary math course.

For acceleration to be effective, schools must have a system in place to monitor and verify learning. Standards describe what students should learn, by a certain grade level, however “they do not describe how students learn in ways that are maximally useful for curriculum and instruction” (NRC, Knowing What Students Know). Since the standards do not present clear descriptions of how learning progresses within a domain, an acceleration plan requires having a continuum of how learning develops (learning progression) in a domain so teachers can monitor and verify learning. In the live binder under the tab Assessment Critical Areas Framework, we have shared sample learning progressions for the critical areas of each grade level.

By its very nature, learning involves progression. Learning tends to follow an expected path (progression) where more complex skills build on foundational skills.  Learning progressions are stages through which students typically progress in reaching an understanding of a big idea.  They include the building blocks students must master in order to reach a curricular outcome. (Pophan, 2014) It is important to remember not all learning develops in a nice predictable linear pathway—sometimes a separate, but inter-related area of learning needs to act as a trigger in current learning. A learning progression articulates a predictable path toward increased understanding in the same way a map acknowledges a network of interrelated routes and potential pit stops that might affect a journey. A well-constructed learning progression presents many opportunities for instructional planning and assessment. It places the focus on what the student will learn (learning intention) rather that what the student will do (i.e., the learning activity).  
Learning progressions.

1.     are developed (and refined) using available research.
2.     are organized around the big ideas of each content domain that develop over time.
3.     articulate movement toward increased understanding.
4.     go hand-in-hand with well-designed formative uses of assessment.

Hess, Karin. (2018). A local assessment toolkit to promote deeper learning: Transforming research into practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

When teachers understand the continuum of learning in a domain and have information about where students are relative to the learning goal (rather than to the activity they have designed to help students meet the goal), they are better able to make decisions about what the next steps in learning should be.  This is what formative assessment is all about, moving learning forward. “Formative assessment is a planned, ongoing process used by all students and teachers during learning and teaching to elicit and use evidence of student learning to improve student understanding of intended disciplinary learning outcomes and support students to become self-directed learners. “(Revising The Definition of Formative Assessment, CCSSO, June 2021).

Critical to a plan for accelerating learning is the integration of social and emotional skills into the practices of the discipline. Research shows that when schools fully integrate social, emotional, and academic development into the classroom, academic performance improves. (Institute for Student Achievement Social Emotional Academic Development….SEAD Project). In the live binder under the tab Math and SEL, you can find strategies and resources for embedding SEL competencies into the math practices. Also see the July newsletter for more about these strategies.
We hope these resources will be helpful as you implement your plan for accelerating learning.
On another note, we have resumed for those who wanted to complete their certificate. the MSIS and MFIS cohorts, online. The sessions are in progress online for the fall semester. You can also check out on the live binder, under the tab AERO Online, two of the online sessions available in different regions. Embedding SEL into Math Practices and Assessment Practices for Accelerating Learning. 
(Published with the permission of Erma Anderson)