Critical Minds, Compassionate Hearts

How does Rashi’s Math Program Challenge Every Student?

Beth Brown, Fallon Katz
This fall, teachers in grades 3-5 have been focusing on differentiating instruction by structuring lessons that are driven specifically by student levels of both skill and interest.
This year, teachers in grades 3-5 have piloted a new approach to teaching math. They are focusing on differentiating instruction by structuring lessons driven specifically by student levels of skill and interest. At Rashi, educators recognize that diverse student thinking is an essential and valued resource. Classroom teachers pair their knowledge of math and math pedagogy with intentionality about curricular choices. They believe in developing strong learning communities in their classrooms, the use of ongoing assessment, and flexible groupings to successfully tailor math instruction to meet individual needs.

As part of piloting a new approach, this year Rashi created a staff role to focus on understanding and improving teaching and learning in math for all students. As math learning specialist, Fallon Katz works with students in small groups within the classroom and collects data based on classroom observation. Each week, she collaborates with each teaching team in grades 3–5 to identify strategies that enrich students’ critical thinking skills. These discussions position students to demonstrate their learning in a way that best reflects their understanding of curricular concepts and identifies areas for further growth.
Through the comprehensive process of differentiation, teachers gain a better understanding of the exact knowledge each child possesses. They are able to improve the quality of instruction by tailoring it to target each of their students' specific needs. For students who excel in their mathematical abilities, for example, a teacher may differentiate instruction by allowing the students to work through material at a quicker pace. This enables students to focus on building skills they have yet to grasp and deepen areas of strength. When teachers differentiate learning, they also stretch students to demonstrate knowledge in ways that will highlight their mastery of the material while also uncovering areas for continued development. Students may present a report, create a model, making inferences and drawing conclusions through discussion, or document their process through a journal.
We invite you to a parent forum on how Rashi is implementing the ThinkMath! curriculum in grades 3-5 that will be facilitated by Beth Brown and Fallon Katz. Please join us  on January 20 at 8:00 AM for additional information.