Laura Hunovice: Differentiated instruction for all learners

My name is Laura Hunovice. I’m a Mathematics Resource Teacher working in Hampton Elementary School and Linton Spring Elementary School both within Carroll County Maryland.

I was looking for resources that had a vision of Mathematics that was similar to mine that I wanted to make sure that there was a constructivist part of it that there was definite emphasis of number sense and I kept running across this materials that were put about by this company called Dreambox. I was so excited by what I saw because the kids were really engaged and they seem to really have an enthusiasm   from math that I didn’t see with them before.

We were looking for something that would be really engaging for primary students and a lot of the programs that we had looked at previously were ones that would help kids practice what they are already understand but wouldn’t help kids build conceptual understandings, so that to me was the different between what I had looked at previously in Dreambox.

The part that I really liked aside from the engagement, aside from the really good math that I saw going on was the individualization and that – I liked that a child was working with what I know that they understand, and that when they didn’t understand something they were receiving a little bit more scaffolding, but there’s no, “Well, let me show you how to do this”, that the children are still constructing their own understanding and if they’re not ready for it that time, then that idea kind of goes away for a little while until they’re ready to come back to it later. That was to me what I felt was really important for young learners, and that, the kind of feedback that they were getting wasn’t that “Oh, you a made mistake. That’s wrong. Let me show you what to do”. It’s that I’m still constructing my own learning I’m getting a little bit further with it but if I’m not meeting with success I can walk away from it for a little while and then it’s not something that I see as a failure and that was really important to me.

We had a group of children who were struggling with numbers sense and we also had a smaller group of children who were really excelling and their teacher was kind of having trouble keeping up with them and so I said to her, “Why don’t we put our children together in one group?” and it was about 7 or 8 kids and I’ll take them and I’ll go use Dreambox with them and the kids who were struggling felt great that they were able to go with the kids that they know are excelling and the kids who are excelling are really excited because it was individualized for them and they were able to zoom in to whatever made sense to them. And they’re so excited about their learning that even now it’s a web based program and even though it’s individualized there’s still so much social interaction going on between the kids. The transfer that I’m seeing with kids as they work in the classroom is they’re using 5 as a benchmark more often. They’re using 10 as a benchmark more often and the thing that I also really love is that they’re now more focus on developing strategies that are efficient and I really attribute that to Dreambox because they’re always being encouraged to build numbers in the fewest number of clicks.

When I take kids to the lab and they’re working with Dreambox, I like that when I looked around the lab, I see kids working in all different areas and I like that they’re working on what is just right for them at that moment. And I love that when I’m walking on around the room, it’s not just kids with their headphones on with the rest of the world tuned out, but they are really excited about what they’re doing and so they’re tapping their friends on the shoulder to say “Look what I just did, or you know, look at the hundred charts that I just build, or look at how I use my math rack to build this number”. And as I’m walking through the room they were raising their hands saying “Mrs. Hunovice let me show you what I just did”.

Laura Hunovice
Mathematics Resource Teacher
Carroll County MD