What inspired this project?
In the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, special needs students were not interested or engaged in learning mathematics. Behaviors were at the highest in comparison to the other classes. Many of the students in class, reflected a poor attitude in learning core concepts in math. These misconceptions led to a higher resistance to learn, especially in a traditional format of paper and pencil. The students were frustrated and so was I. How could I find a possible solution to make mathematics relevant and current with real-world situations. As it turns out, special needs students are less likely to graduate than their counterparts. In fact, only 65% of special education students graduate on time.
In the pursuit of finding a practical solution to the lack of student motivation and engagement, I introduced Google Classroom to the students. This online learning platform gave me the freedom to create assignments, quizzes, or tests using Google docs, then uploading it to the new system. It took a couple of days before the students were comfortable using Google Classroom. In time, students’ behaviors also diminished as the student learning and engagement slowly improved.
Alarmingly, overall student performance in mathematics has been on the decline, no matter what new program the district introduces. In 2017, the percentage of fourth-grade students performing at or above Proficient level in mathematics was 40 percent, in the Nation’s Report Card. As students move up grades, the difficulties and challenges in math content only increase. Additionally in 2017, the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) reported the percentage of eighth-grade students performing at or above Proficient level was only 33 percent nationally. This means roughly 70 percent of eighth-graders or two-thirds of the students are not performing at or above Proficient level in mathematics. This is a major concern for all parties involved, teachers, parents, and administrators.