Learning Plan

A System for Better Math Students Through Superior Math Teachers

The UMath X Professional Learning Plan

Preamble

Neufeld Learning Systems Inc is an approved publisher for many districts across North America and overseas with respect to adoption of K to Algebra (grade 10) mathematics.

UMath X is the 10th version of Understanding Math, a computer assisted learning system that includes software and related resources. It is browser based, addresses the Common Core State Standards, Texas TEKS, Ontario Expectations, Florida 2014-beyond and Virginia SOLS and supports and scaffolds mathematics learning for all learners from K to algebra (grade 10). UMath X enables an adaptive, accessible learning environment with multiple entry points and seamless integration which allows students to learn at their own pace and enables teachers to access immediate assessment data. It supports construction of sharper math content knowledge and wider instructional skills.

Our training incorporates aspects of three-part lessons that use a multi-sensory approach (build it, draw it, talk it, write it .. OWN IT!) and integrates with instructional technology (get started, work at it, reflect and connect). The objective is to engage, explore, assemble, and challenge learners and to increase the mathematics capacity of both the teacher and the student. We change the mindset from “remember how” to “understand why”.

“Education is moving away from the idea of every student being on the same page of the same book at the same time. Teachers need software platforms that enable them to adapt curricular items in order to boost individual achievement. As well, teachers accustomed to old school lecturing, along with their supervisors, urgently need training in blending traditional and digital methods. This business is growing at an exponential rate.” - January, 2014 PROFITguide.com

Philosophy

No one would deny that education is vitally important to the future economic and political success of any country. Mathematics is the subject that will be at the foundation of all new discoveries, especially in the areas of medicine, renewable energy and transportation technology. Yet, we are at a crossroad and now face the complex challenge of improving our education system. One facet of this improvement must be in the area of mathematics education. There are many different voices calling for mathematics reform.

Where do we look for a solution? Is it in the curriculum, assessment, or in the classroom? There is no one right answer but we have come far enough to realize that teachers hold the key to improving student learning. Such a simple and obvious statement belies the importance and complexity of improving the teaching of mathematics. Teachers tell us that they are ill prepared to deal with the challenges of teaching mathematics when they graduate from their college or university program. This is especially true of elementary teachers who usually enter the teaching profession with very little background knowledge in mathematics and how to teach it.

Teachers face classrooms every day with students who have a wide range of ability levels, diverse learning styles, a wide range of literacy skills, and deficiencies in intrinsic motivation. These challenges can be overwhelming to new and experienced teachers alike so, how do we prepare teachers to know and understand the mathematics needed to teach effectively?

We know from a large body of research in mathematics education and through our many years of working with teachers in the classroom that improving a teacher’s capacity to teach mathematics must include the following components.

Components to Increasing Capacity to Teach Mathematics

  • Teachers need to learn how to unpack familiar mathematical concepts into those elements that combine and lead to an understanding of the concept.
  • Teachers require knowledge of what is an adequate explanation of a concept or justification of a procedure.
  • Teachers require an understanding and exploration of solutions or methods that are different from their own.

This type of ‘on-the-job learning’ can only take place with a supportive school leadership team, excellent teaching resources and a professional learning community within the school.

Strategy

Neufeld Learning Systems Inc. (NLSI) combines the excellence of UMath X, the browser based version of the Understanding Math Series of programs and our Professional Learning Series (PLS) to improve a teacher’s capacity in the instruction of mathematics.

UMath X “unpacks” the mathematical concepts into their discrete sub concepts. These concepts are developed from the concrete to the pictorial to the abstract using multiple representations. This approach makes mathematical concepts accessible to everyone. The Understanding Math Series of programs combines a highly interactive computer based learning environment that enables students to learn from their mistakes and at their own pace.

Our PLS provides a series of leveled workshops that lead participants to further develop their instructional capacity for mathematics. The workshops give teachers the theory and practicality of effective implementation strategies. The focus is on integrating a variety of resources – technology, instructional strategies, manipulatives, textbook, etc. – into their mathematics program. This approach lays the foundation for a program that gives each student the opportunity to make connections in an inquiry based, student centered learning environment.