Though I’m careful never to admit it in front of my daughters, I never enjoyed math in school. But hearing Erin Morrison, a third grade teacher at Navin Elementary School in Marysville, Ohio, discuss how her students demonstrate mastery in different ways during math workshop makes me think that if I’d had the opportunity to learn a little bit differently, maybe I would have found something about math to love.
Morrison describes the six stations in her classroom, where students have the flexibility to choose one “must do” each week, as well as three “may dos.” She explains that this more open-ended approach allows students to play to their strengths – choosing the stations that are most comfortable for them, such as writing or hands-on – while also encouraging them to stretch themselves a little bit and try out new things. They also have the opportunity to work with a group, or alone, and while it’s clear they’re enjoying the freedom to go their own way now, it was an adjustment.
“The students were very used to being told specifically what to do,” Morrison said, echoing the math lessons that I, and probably you, too, remember. But in a competency education classroom, educators like Morrison deliver academic content as well as help students learn how they learn through coaching and facilitation.
Making – don’t tell my girls! – even math fun.
Learn more about how competency-based education encourages student agency: