(April 5, 2019) Getting students to understand higher level mathematics is often a challenge, which is why Worcester County schools are implementing a Main Lesson – Menu Lesson approach to middle school and high school math.

Several math teachers from county schools, along with the school system’s coordinator of mathematics, added the Board of Education to that equation of understanding last Tuesday.

Coordinator of Mathematics Kristen Danisavich told board members the consensus is that the group’s new approach will help achieve that.

The Main Lesson Menu Lesson program begins with the teacher launching the lesson and bringing all students into it. The launch has a low starting level and a high starting level so all students can access the information in the launch. Then the students are sent into stations with different activities and the students would have to fill the gaps with the potential to accelerate into the next class.

Several teachers from Worcester County Public Schools demonstrated examples of what activities they do using the Main Lesson Menu Lesson option.

“This is my first year teaching at the high school level,” Snow Hill High School teacher Nikki Blume said. “I thought that implementing menu would be a challenge, because I thought the high school students would be resistant. But being able to use the same structure and offer choices and menu I am able to implement menu a few times a week.

“I had one student last semester who took Algebra 1 three times and menu provided the structure to give him confidence to give him the skills he needed, and he was able to pass to pass Algebra 1 assessment this year,” she continued.

“My main lesson sets high expectations for all of my students,” Stephen Decatur High School teacher Brenda Hommel said. “Students receive a menu checklist based on their level of success on the formative assessment. Giving students choices in the menu checklist, helps to build responsibility and ownership in their own learning.”

Specific examples were used in the presentation. One experiment offered at Pocomoke Middle School asked students if they would accept a challenge from Olympic runner Usain Bolt to race against him in a 100-meter dash if they received a 20-meter head start.

“One thing that Menu Math has done for my students is giving them an option of how to [discover] what works best for them,” Pocomoke Middle School Teacher Danielle Poll said. “It used to be it was group-based on what you got right or what you got wrong. Menu math looks at what you have as far as a misconception and then we can group all students based on that misconception and use different tools … to provide success.

Now that the program has been implemented in the middle schools, high schools will see the system’s introduction next.

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