Friday, July 11, 2014

Attainment's Early Numeracy Program

The first two thing that jumped out at me as I read through the Implementation Guide are these quotes:
This curriculum is intended to help students become fluent in early numeracy skills to better prepare students to participate in the general education curriculum.
The Early Numeracy curriculum is not a precursor to teaching grade-aligned academics in mathematics, but should be used concurrently in order to strengthen students' numeracy skills while also providing opportunities to practice the skills in different contexts, environments , with different material, and possible with different instructors.
The curriculum focuses on counting with one-to-one correspondence, number identification, naming numbers, rote counting, creating sets, beginning addition with sets, identification and understanding of numeracy symbols, identification, extension and creation of ABAB patterns, using and understanding calendars and measuring with nonstandard and standard units.  These skills are the foundational skills that students need to be able to meaningfully participate in mathematics learning of general education curriculum.  This program is designed in a way that allows for the flexibility of supports, instructional methods, materials, and time needed to ensure that students are able to master the concepts.  
 The program includes teacher-directed lessons that include direct work on rote counting and number recognition, a math story that include several opportunities to stop and work on early numeracy skills, math skill practice time and a game to review the concepts from the lesson.  The lessons are meant to be repeated over several days with different practice work each day.  Hands-on student materials and organizational mats are included so students are able to actively engage in their learning. In the context that I work in, I'm envisioning these lessons as being pull out lessons with me going through the lessons with student and learning assistant (in groups or individually dependent on context) once a week. A learning assistant would then repeat the lesson each day that week with the student doing a different practice set each day. The practice sets are set up on worksheets.  This allows me to assess where students are at each week and to ensure that we are using methods that are working for the student.
The second part of the program is related to finding times and ways for the student to continue to practice the same skills within the general education mathematics context.  This is done in two ways. The first is to find natural times during the class to work one-on-one on the skills that are being worked on in the lesson.  The second is by embedding the skills in to the lesson that the rest of the class is doing.  The later does involve some brainstorming and thinking through when what is being done in the class can be used as the context for working on these specific skills.  An example would be to take work that is being done on finding the area of rectangles and use that as an opportunity to practice counting with one-to-one correspondence or measuring with standard or non-standard units. A nice thing about the processes is that they are ones that can be taught to peer supports with the guidance of myself or the learning assistant so as opportunities for this present themselves in class they can be capitalized on.

With the students that I'm working with, I'm also looking to embed as many opportunities for communication as possible.  A couple of them already have math page sets (either tech or non-tech) but I'm looking to expand these based on what is in this curriculum and what I'm learning as we keep moving forward with what we are doing.  I will post about this later in the summer as I'm still thinking this part of things through.

We still plan to continue to find the opportunities that students can engage in the same mathematics as the rest of the class be it through modifications, peer supports, use of manipulatives (virtual or concrete), use of a calculator...etc.  Some of my students are past this stage and I'm looking at other similar ways to supplement their programs so that we are continuing to move toward finding that balance between remediation (working on foundational skills where they are at) and compensation (finding the work-arounds that allow them to participate in what is happening in the community around them). 

I'm excited that we will be taking another step in figuring out how to do this and so glad to find a resource that starts from the idea of supplementing participation and learning of general education curriculum for students with complex needs. 

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