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How “Teach to One” Personalizes Math Learning

Teach to One serves over 10,000 students who have embraced the transformative learning approach of Teach to One: Math. 37 partner schools across 11 states have replaced textbook-based math courses with Teach to One’s personalized learning approach.

Math is one of the most problematic subjects because mathematical education is cumulative. For example, it’s difficult to understand percentages if you don’t already understand decimals; if you haven’t grasped one, you won’t grasp the other. But education policies encourage teachers to provide educational materials that focus primarily on grade-level targets.

The result has been inspired classes, motivated teachers, and soaring math results. The majority of American students follow a single learning path that supposedly defines college and career readiness, despite the fact that every student has different needs and goals. Therefore, every student needs a customized educational path to reach their academic potential.

Developed by New Classrooms Innovation Partners, Teach to One solves the problems that surface when children start middle school with unfinished learning from previous education.

Just as technological platforms suggest items and digital media that we could benefit from, Teach to One: Math creates daily “playlists” of math skills for students to practice. These playlists involve working with teachers, peers, and online materials to identify the most effective routes to securing each student’s math skill sets. Students report feeling “better” at math and more “motivated” to learn since their schools started using Teach to One’s innovative approach.

“I got to raise my grade, and I’m going to the high school I want to go to because of Teach to One: Math,” says one student, Steven.

“There is not a set curriculum. You can keep moving up,” adds another student, Del. “Once you know something, you can just go on to the next concept and figure that one out.”

How Teach to One: Math Works

Teach to One uses multiple modalities to support each student’s individual learning outcomes. Children move between 35-minute sessions to keep them engaged and enthused. These fast-paced sessions include:

  • Virtual instruction
  • Small-group collaboration
  • Live investigation
  • Independent practice
  • Peer-to-peer task
  • Virtual tutoring
  • Live tutoring with a teacher

Students “check in” to their assigned stations based on their current progress and work through a customized combination of activities. At the end of the math lesson, each student takes an “exit slip” quiz, which determines the content of their next personalized math session.

Why Teach to One Targets Math

Children across the United States learn the same mathematical concepts, regardless of their individual progress or abilities. However, if a child falls off of their assigned learning path, there aren’t many opportunities to climb back on. This is where children begin to struggle with multiple aspects of their math educations.

Teach to One calls this challenge “the iceberg problem,” as only a small portion of students’ math-related struggles is visible. Mathematical concepts that many children haven’t grasped from earlier years of their educations become invisible when these skills aren’t taught in higher grades. The problem is comparable to an iceberg: only around 10 percent of an iceberg’s mass is visible above the 90 percent concealed by the ocean.

“In every single state, proficiency levels drop in math between the fourth grade and the eighth grade,” says Joel Rose, co-founder and CEO of New Classrooms. The former math teacher reflects on teaching fifth-grade students, saying, “I had a classroom full of kids with second-grade math skills and eighth-grade math skills. Then, I was given a stack of fifth-grade books and told, ‘good luck.’”

Teach to One is the solution for teachers who need to identify students’ missing foundational skills and fill these gaps. It’s difficult to teach a class that engages both lower-ability and higher-ability children because you can’t always address multiple needs simultaneously. Traditional teaching approaches will always leave some students behind.

Benefits of Personalized Learning

The majority of students receive traditional classroom education in orderly rows as they study from scripted materials. Their everyday math lessons look very similar. Meanwhile, Teach to One’s partner schools have enriched math curriculums with the dynamic personalized approach that tailors each student’s learning path and drives them toward their own definitions of success.

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