Slide 1: Welcome to the final webinar in the module on helping students learn math. This is Marged Dudek. I am working on behalf of the Ohio Partnership for Excellence in Paraprofessional Preparation at the University of Dayton School of Education and Health Sciences Grant Center. What we’re trying to do in this webinar is put it all together for reinforcing math lessons—which is work that paraprofessionals might be asked to do.
Slide 2: First, let’s extract four major points that summarize the entire module:
- Many of us have learned to fear math, and we have to get over that fear enough to help students. Unit 2 works on that.
- Math is thinking with numbers and space. Every unit in the module explains that. Even arithmetic applies “number sense” to the facts, and Unit 9 shows how.
- Questions support students’ thinking with numbers and space. The point is to talk with students about what they are thinking and to help them deal with the challenges that new learning demands. Units 6 and 7 are particularly big on this point, but, really, most other units have something to say about the importance of questioning.
- Finally, typical math instruction involves a lecture, a demonstration, and lots of practice. But students need multiple chances to learn. So the module includes alternatives to the typical instructional mode: visual math, technology, and problem-solving techniques—in Units 5, 7, and 10. But again, the entire module concerns alternatives to typical learning. Why? Because special education paraprofessionals deliver such alternatives to the students most in need of alternatives.
Slide 4: There’s more to “putting it all together,” however. How do you, for instance, put all those things together in actual practice? The answer: is slowly, steadily, and persistently. You have to keep at it and you have to enjoy and be intrigued by the process. And by the results you see in students. For someone who teaches, there is nothing better! As a paraprofessional, you don’t need know a lot of math or of what the experts say is best as far as teaching math. But there are several things you can do to reinforce lessons to help students learn math better. This module is one of the only resources anywhere to help paraprofessionals with exactly that assignment.
Slide 5: This unit has a toolkit for paraprofessionals—not teachers, not anyone but you—to help you “put it all together.” There’s nothing like it anywhere else, though hopefully that will change in the future. What paraprofessionals do is extremely important!
Slide 6: The toolkit includes:
- links to videos of good math teaching with students with disabilities;
- resources to help you develop “number sense,” so you can more easily help students do it, too;
- links to videos of elementary math teaching that feature ideas, so you can see it for yourself;
- links to online sites where those working with math teaching talk to one another; and
- an appendix with links to organizations particularly concerned with supporting the instructional work of paraprofessionals.
Slide 7: Just recognize that “putting it all together” is not a paint-by-numbers process. You will get better and better over time as you work with students. Know this: all of us who want to help students learn have to work hard at it. It’s a process that takes time and effort, for all of us. We’re just who we are, and we have important work to do. We get better at that work if we think about it and continually work to be better at it.
Slide 8: Not only that, but it’s not something that should be done alone. You should be part of a team that is discussing what students need and how to arrange it for them. Of course, it’s not a perfect world and what should happen often happens piece-meal and imperfectly. And sometimes not at all. But you can seek out help and you can start conversations! Most of us know how to do that already. Remember, we’ve included in the toolkit options for online conversation and fellowship with others working on this process.
Slide 9: In the end, students learn what interests them, and they learn best what interests them most. And math is very, very interesting. But too few people understand. They’ve been taught that it’s not interesting—that it’s painful and boring. Part of teaching math is to open this new world of interest to students. And it’s the ideas in math that make up this new world. Students should like math for what it is. You can see that this is not easy work. But it is better than good work—it is excellent work. And once you “get it,” you can give it to students!