Differentiating Instruction for all Learners
Combat Changing Standards
In 2010, Kentucky became the first state in the union to adopt the Common Core standards, making the state a test case for the rest of the nation. Predictably, teachers and students found the transition difficult, which resulted in a precipitous drop in test scores. Berea Elementary in Berea, Kentucky, a community school outside of Lexington, was hit particularly hard in math. “After reviewing our K-PREP scores in the first year after the adoption, we saw the need to improve our math program,” reports Berea ISD math coach Angela Keene. The teachers needed help, not only in building their instruction around the Common Core, but also in differentiating their lessons for students who were now considered below proficiency.
Differentiating in Rtl
“The teachers weren’t happy with the software we were currently using because it wasn’t aligned to the new standards,” states Keene. In those early days of the transition, it was hard to find a solution that was—except for DreamBox. Midway through the 2012– 13 school year, DreamBox was adopted for use throughout the school. “The younger students love it. We use it for both enrichment and remediation,” says Keene. Because Berea is a Response to Intervention (RtI) school that has seen its Tier 2 roster swell with the new standards and testing, students in every grade and at every skill level need support. Using DreamBox with these students has been instrumental to their success.
Combating Summer Brain Drain
With the adoption of DreamBox came a commitment to blended learning throughout the school. Students are rotated through computer labs once a week, as well as classroom-center rotations, and the school’s iPads. Tier 2 RtI students are given an additional 20 to 30 minutes per week on the system. DreamBox has also helped to bolster and inform the teachers’ direct instruction. Teachers have started integrating DreamBox’s Teacher Tools, which provide examples and manipulatives from the software for the teachers’ smart boards. “Teachers love the reinforcement of strategies— number lines, math racks, snap blocks—as well as seeing the virtual manipulatives used in multiple different environments, in the classroom on the smart board, as well as on the students’ computers. DreamBox provides reinforcement and understanding of how to teach to the Common Core Standards for teachers as well,” reports Keene. DreamBox was also instrumental in combating summer brain drain. Through local libraries, the school promoted a “Summer DreamBox Challenge.” Goals were set based on the number of hours that needed to be spent on the system during the summer. Students who met those goals were invited to a bounce house party on the first Friday of the new school year. Not surprisingly, those students that took part lost significantly less ground in their math progress and MAP scores than the students who did not.
Dedicated Use—Dedicated Results
“We’re starting to see jumps in our MAP scores. We are predicting that DreamBox will prove to be a contributing factor to this increase in student outcomes.”
— Angela Keene, Math Coach
As expected, the challenge had a dramatic effect on the school’s DreamBox usage. Students spent an average of 50 minutes on the program during the month of July. Overall, students spend an average of 30 minutes per week during the school year, a number Keene expects to improve once some parental engagement initiatives are rolled out that will spur parents to encourage their children work with DreamBox at home. The groundwork has been laid for steady improvement for Berea Elementary. “We’re starting to see jumps in our MAP [Measures of Academic Progress] scores. We are predicting that DreamBox will prove to be a contributing factor to this increase in student outcomes,” reports Keene. As the MAP is the only test the early grades will see (Kentucky doesn’t officially start testing students until third grade), it’s becoming apparent that Berea should expect increased achievement when these students begin to matriculate through the curriculum.