What's new this past week:
A lot of exciting things happened this past week. The new podcast episode was downloaded much more than the previous episodes. It is only episode 4, so there's a lot to learn still. But progress is being made.
A lot of new content was published, and all of it with the aim of helping teachers be more effective without having to re-invent the wheel. Algebraic fractions, or rational expressions, is one topic in math that is particularly difficult. Please follow the link to find resources for your classroom.
Also published last week was an block of materials on how to teach algebraic fractions, including excerpt from my upcoming book. The block of materials included a teacher's guide, which is a text to help teachers understand why students struggle with the topic and how to respond, a week-long lesson, homework assignments with key, and a quiz with grade rubric and key. This is a password protected page, but for now you can access the information there by using the password: mathrocks. The website link is here.
We also posted a new YouTube video about methods and techniques to improve instruction of negative exponents. By helping students to understand what negative exponents really mean, they'll see the reasoning behind typical procedural instruction. This will help them be more proficient with negative exponents and also retain their understanding over time.
You know that sinking feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you realize you've bitten of more than you can chew? Teachers get that when their dream of teaching Cambridge IGCSE math slams headlong into a troubling reality: You're pretty much on your own.
Maybe that's why more than 80% of American students fail the program?
To beat those odds you're going to need resources. You'll also need a proven plan to turn students who only know to follow steps into independent problem solvers.
And most of all, you're going to need a guide - someone who's been there, done that, and got the T-shirt to prove it - to help you find the push to Cambridge mastery for you and your students.
My name is Philip Brown. I'm an official Cambridge certified trainer and a IGCSE mathematics teacher. My students have earned 61% of all of the A-stars awarded in the United States since 2015. My program works, and it can work for you.
To begin to find out how it works and then to start using it, start with the tab above called This is Different.
Have you ever worked at a school that forces you to follow a canned, low quality curriculum? Is there anything more disrespectful to you as a professional educator than being forced to use low-quality lessons?
This is different. By following this program, you will be trained on how to deliver instruction in a way that feels like conversation. You will be coached on questioning techniques as well as ways to empower your students to be inquisitive and own their own learning. Your students will learn how to learn!
And you, the teacher, will be empowered. We all know that a perfect, turn-key lesson does not exist. It is the delivery of a lesson, more than its design, that makes it effective! This program is a guide, helping you to deliver instruction that develops thoughtful, mathematically literate students.
Here's how it works. You'll start with the Philosophy of Teaching page, which will help you to understand what Cambridge expects from you and from the students. This frames all that follows. Next, you'll see how to to structure your course. This will set up procedures and policies in your class to promote student success. Then you're ready to start digging into the curriculum and delivery.
The Hub is where you will navigate the nitty-gritty of teaching the curriculum. It is a Scope and Sequence that paces the curriculum, and helps you to integrate topics gradually. Each topic has its own page, referenced on the Scope and Sequence page. On those pages you will find information to get you up to speed on what Cambridge expects for the topic, a fleshed-out and vetted lesson and lesson guide, quality homework that develops thinking and problem solving skills, and assessments written in the Cambridge style, complete with grade rubric and mark scheme. (Because of test-security issues, assessments will not be published online.)
Click on the Get Started tab above to, well, get started!
Think of what you'll find here as a franchise kit. All of the structure will be provided. You'll learn the philosophy and best practices, be provided with sequence, lessons, assessments and other resources. As the teacher you will be empowered to make decisions that best serve the needs of your students to ensure their success.
How to Begin
Let's lay the foundations for the day-to-day activities. The Foundation is a page that will help you to understand how to teach each topic in better alignment with Cambridge ideology and expectation. You'll learn the content itself, content specific questioning techniques, a pithy way to inform students what is at hand, a list of prerequisite knowledge, and a few pointers you can share with students. All of that information will be specific for each topic based on experience, trial and error.
While it may take five minutes or so to read through a reference page, and you may be an expert in the content already, this frames your approach and helps to define your role in the classroom. Referring to the franchise model, this is the recipe!
It is imperative that you understand what the IGCSE program is designed to do, and how it does so. If you have not attended an official Cambridge International training, your school needs to send you to one. Click here to find out more about training opportunities.
Once you understand the purpose and design, which will inform all that follows, you are ready to get in the kitchen, so to speak. The first place to start is at The Hub. This structures and paces the entire syllabus. It also gradually introduces you and the students into a blended curriculum where concepts are integrated.
The blending of mathematical concepts is powerful. It quickens acquisition of new ideas and improves retention. It also promotes problem solving through existing inter-connectivity of ideas. However, taking a student that is accustomed to concepts and procedures in isolation to a blended instruction must be done carefully and deliberately. This Scope and Sequence will help you with this!
The scope and sequence is linked by topic to a Teacher's Reference for each subject, as well as a resource page for students, a Lesson Guide and a PowerPoint (where applicable).
Once you have the philosophy and know what's expected of students, you're ready to prepare a lesson. To get started there are Lesson Guides and accompanying PowerPoints (when applicable). These are linked in The Hub. The Lesson Guides pace the PowerPoint (or activity), while helping you to stay in tune with what you learned in step #1.
Keep in mind, the lessons are an example and a guideline. Every lesson delivery presents unanticipated obstacles. You will need your teaching expertise to know when to go slow, what to skip, and when to explore an unscripted teachable moment. This website is designed to empower you as THE teacher and help you improve your instruction.
Each lesson you deliver will have quality practice problems for your students. The problems are challenging, often integrate various concepts, but also reinforce procedural efficiency, exactly the combination they need to be successful with the IGCSE exams. Each lesson builds in time for review of practice problems because the monitoring of progress is perhaps the single most important factor for student progress.
To measure their progress there are quizzes and tests, similar to the IGCSE exams in format, style and content. Each assessment has a grade threshold rubric as well as a mark scheme complete with partial credit guide.