Close the opportunity gap by providing small group math instruction for our highest need students in order to accelerate their academic growth.

2014 Results and Areas to Expand Impact, Post 2 of 2

2014 Results and Areas to Expand Impact, Post 2 of 2

By Tim Johnson, Director of Denver Math Fellows


In the previous post I outlined our student growth and achievement highlights for year one, high growth implementations at the school level and characteristics of those implementations.


Now, for the areas to improve and expand impact.


  1. Our training and professional development needs to be more practical—less direct instruction more practicing with feedback and adjustments and practicing again
  2. Expand our implementation focus building on our work to meet individual student needs and combing with support of grade level material and more specific guidance on how to build strong relationships with students to leverage for academic success


Training: Last spring and summer we spent a lot of time redesigning our training and professional development, making the experience more practical and geared toward preparing fellows for day one with kids. We still have room to grow here, need to incorporate more practice into each training session, less session leader talk and we can expand our use of video.


Implementation: Last year, we focused the majority of our efforts on individual student needs. This is important and necessary. However, we overemphasized filling gaps (traditional intervention approach) and did not do enough to support mastery of grade level content. So, we are continuing with our foundational approach—branding it Targeted Individual Support and balancing with a focused support of grade level rigor –we call this On Track. Each tutorial period is spent on both, from day one.


Finally, hiring great people to work with our kids—people who can build strong relationships and leverage those relationships for huge academic gains—is always a central priority. Students participate in the fellow hiring process and provide feedback on candidates that inform hiring decisions. In order to build on this we have partnered with the Character Lab to provide specific training and support for fellows in terms of how to build strong relationships with students and how to encourage behaviors like “grit” and “self-control” that predict academic success.   Super excited about the potential here, stay tuned for more. To recap, our three implementation focuses for the current school year are:

  1. Targeted Individual Support: A portion of each math lab period is spent meeting individual student needs.
  2. On Track: A portion of each math lab period is spent supporting grade level material and rigor.
  3. Math Lab Mindset: Each math lab session is infused with use of growth mindset language, incorporation of personal success factors (“grit,” “sel-control” etc) and increasing the ratio of positive to negative responding to build strong relationships.


Always working to get better…