Math Coach Turns Up the Heat on Intervention with Edmentum Courseware + Exact Path
Melissa Epping, math coach at Mitchell Community Schools (MCS) in Mitchell, Indiana, understands acutely what it is like when students have decided they are just “bad at math.” What she is doing, however, to turn those feelings around by providing meaningful remediation for students in algebra and geometry classes is making all the difference. Like other educators in the district, she is implementing two powerful Edmentum programs to help achieve lasting results: Courseware and Exact Path. Recently, I had the opportunity to uncover a little more about Ms. Epping’s experience. Here is a peek at our conversation.
For secondary students in need of math support, MCS has converted in-school “flex time” to a math bootcamp of sorts. Combined with an otherwise hybrid learning schedule where secondary students attend class physically two days a week in either a Monday/Thursday group or a Tuesday/Friday group, Ms. Epping and others are getting creative to provide for these learners.
Describe how that structured learning time is being used.
Ms. Epping: For algebra lab, we are using specific tutorials [in a custom Courseware course]. We sat down with the algebra teacher and laid out the different skills we were going to cover. We assign the Courseware tutorial one day as an e-learning assignment. And then, we do the Courseware mastery quiz when they return to school. And then, the other three days, one of those days, their e-learning assignment will be Exact Path [for closing individual skill gaps below grade level]. And the other two days, we are working specifically on the material that their algebra teacher is using.
In a year filled with unique learning schedules like yours, creating continuity has never been more important. How do you think your use of Edmentum programs is supporting that aim?
Ms. Epping: When we have a tool that we can use effectively in the classroom and it transfers just as effectively out of the classroom, that is a powerful tool to me. Students understand how to get to [Edmentum], a tool that looks just like it does when they are at school, which is wonderful. Trying to find ways to just engage the students to participate is huge for us. And so, having that familiarly is very helpful.
Why do you think this combined program approach is working for you and your students?
Ms. Epping: [Courseware is] supporting whole-class instruction and making sure that we’re all learning that grade-level content, which we know is very important. But then, having [Exact Path] to allow every student to fill in those missing pieces is just so powerful. You could not design a more perfect intervention. It’s there and it’s ready for you.
[Exact Path] is a great tool for a teacher to be able to get appropriate materials easily and quickly for individual students without having to go 12 different places to find them. It’s really a fantastic tool. When students build those skills, then they can see success, and for the kids that I work with, they haven’t seen a lot of success.
You mention the types of learners that you work with. Can you share more about these students and their specific experiences with the programs?
Ms. Epping: Last year, in particular, I had a student who was [negatively] attitudinal about wanting to come in and did not want to do more math. I pulled him over privately and showed him the screen [in Exact Path that documents which skills students have mastered and where there still may be gaps in learning] and had a discussion to say: “Look, it’s not that you can’t do math period. You’re just missing this skill, and when you fill that skill, then you’ll be able to build on that skill in the next grade level.”
After he left that day, my assistant came over to me and she said, “What did you say to him—because his whole demeanor changed from the time he walked to your desk and when he walked away from it?” He went from thinking: “I can’t do this” to “I just need to fix this skill.” I can’t even put into words the impact it had for that child to see that.
Stories like this one are so powerful. What other differentiators are you finding that are making an impact on students?
Ms. Epping: Exact Path really is just a great tool for that differentiation for kids so that we’re not all practicing something that some kids may have known at the beginning and some others are still struggling with. It gives every kid an opportunity to be successful.
For Courseware, it really puts everything into a real-world context. It not just skill/drill, skill/drill. They really have to be able to interpret what the situation is and what the question is asking. It also really complements the math instruction they’re getting in the classroom.
We’re confident Ms. Epping’s deliberate approach will continue to lead to even more exciting gains for learners in the months and years to come! Learn more about the district’s success honing in on digital programs that guide data-driven learning with fidelity in the full Mitchell Community Schools success story.