St. Catherine’s High School has an open enrollment policy, attracting students from all over Racine County, from both the private and public sectors. At the start of the year Jess usually has little, if any, background knowledge or information on her students and usually no standardized test data because each school “owns” that information. Those incoming 9th graders who are placed in her Pre-Algebra class have a wide range of abilities and a variety of learning gaps. Many entering high school have been struggling in math (some for years), resulting in low confidence levels and an aversion to the subject.
How do you use Knowre with your students?
I use Knowre as my core curriculum, combined with my own materials. I don’t use independent study with my students because they would most likely get frustrated. I prefer to set the pace. I am able to track each student’s progress as they work through the Knowre lessons and can intervene when it is apparent that a student needs help and is not progressing as expected.
I spend the first few weeks getting the students used to the content and the program. I take time to break down the process and answer every question. If a student does have a question, I require them to write something down about the problem first just so they are thinking about the problem. That way I can see where they are at in their thought process and then I can probe them with questions until they reach the solution. This helps build their confidence in math because they are essentially arriving at the answer all on their own and can use the questioning technique for themselves.
Knowre makes it easier for students to ask for help because they don’t feel self-conscious about not knowing something in front of their peers. Each student is working at their own pace and no one knows what the other student is working on. While students are working on their own, I am able to spend time one-on-one with each student who needs support so they keep moving forward and don’t get frustrated or give up.
My students use Knowre in our computer lab. We don’t use it on a daily basis; the number of days per week will vary depending on the content we are covering that week.
How do you track student usage?
I focus on the Overview tab of the Teacher Dashboard to show me how students are doing with each lesson. The Dashboard helps me identify each student’s learning gaps. And, because it tracks their progress in real time, the students know I can see what they are doing, keeping them on task.
Has Knowre affected your teaching style?
Before I started using Knowre I would teach to the middle, hoping the slower students would catch up and the faster ones would not be bored and disruptive. Now, with Knowre I can personalize my instruction to the specific needs of each student.
Knowre is also a time-saver. Since all of the work is done on the computer I do not have to spend as much time grading and reviewing assignments. This gives me more time to work with my students individually and to plan and develop more projects and extra activities that incorporate real-life situations.
How does Knowre benefit your students?
Our students are definitely more engaged. Now, when we go to the computer lab they don’t waste time. They go in and get right to work on Knowre. As a matter of fact, I have to tell them it’s time to stop. They are totally immersed in the program.
Knowre helps my students gain a different outlook on math. They now have ownership of their education. They are able to utilize the videos and “Walk Me Through” button as needed and have no problem asking questions or for help. They learn how to learn, and the self-confidence this gives them carries outside of math.
What improvements have you seen in your students?
Knowre definitely was able to successfully identify and address each student’s learning gaps while helping them adequately progress through the material. Knowre’s word problems have even helped my students with the vocabulary of math; if a student does not know the meaning of a word I urge them to use contextual clues that help build their vocabulary skills. My students know their success is somewhat dependent upon them understanding not only how to solve a problem, but also being able to dissect the problem and what the problem means and is asking in the first place.
I have noticed tremendous improvements in my students’ engagement and understanding in math. Remember that many of these students were always told they weren’t good in math. Well, after a year on Knowre, 87% of these students earned their highest core subject grade in math.
Do you have any final words to share?
Thinking back on my year using Knowre to personalize my students’ learning experience, I was reminded of a quote by George Evans, “Every student can learn, just not on the same day, or the same way.” Knowre helps me reach each of my students with the help they need when they need it.