Math For Keeps MANIFESTO
At Math For Keeps, I describe skill fluency using a Math Number—this is a number representation of the skills you have in the bag. It is NOT the number of skills you’ve been shown. Being shown a skill and being given opportunity and guidance to practice the skill all the way to mastery are very different things.
Here is what I believe:
Every student has a Math Number.
Every class has a Math Number associated with it that ensures a student is ready to succeed in that class.
Often, students need more practice in order to master something than what happens in a traditional classroom.
As a result, it is not only possible, but likely for a student to eventually end up in a math class in which it is impossible for them to have a truly successful experience, NO MATTER HOW HARD THEY TRY, simply because they don’t have the foundational skills, or MATH NUMBER, required to support the new skills they’re being expected to learn.
Struggling, shutting down, rejecting math, rebelling, not doing homework… these are all symptoms of the inevitable feeling of defeat that a student has when they are in a class in which it is impossible for them to succeed.
Having an unsuccessful experience in a math class is usually not the student’s fault.
Having an unsuccessful experience in math does not mean the student does not have the aptitude for learning math.
While it is practically impossible to truly thrive in a math class when your Math Number is below what’s required for that class, it is entirely possible to get your Math Number higher. That’s what I do! A higher Math Number is what I am able to ensure for my students because of my unique style of prescribed practice. In Math For Keeps sessions, I don’t help students do school homework for which they’re not primed and ready, and it is not about the grade, though once your Math Number is where it needs to be, your A becomes a sure thing. What I am doing in a Math For Keeps Program is practicing skills in a way that guarantees Mastery, functional use, fluency and an improved Math Number.
While all of this is happening, I am also teaching students about their Math Number and about how their brain works to achieve fluency, so they can be empowered with an understanding about why they have struggled. Their brain and their Math Number become part of our regular conversation. By putting the focus here—instead of on grades which are unfairly discouraging if the grade was over a skill the student wasn’t ready to master—we see real and LASTING evidence of learning and progress.
By putting the focus on their Math Number progress, the student sees that they are indeed improving, consistently and definitely. By seeing this, the student will already have transformed their defeated experience with math into an EMPOWERING one.
My students develop a fluency in math. They learn to speak it as a language. It is a GAME CHANGER. Even before they start mastering skills, they learn about what it takes to get a skill at the mastery level. This is empowering information because they see that their aptitude for math is a-ok, and that their former struggles were merely from lack of practicing the skill all the way to MASTERY and not due to any inherent math ineptitude.
Math For Keeps can work as supplementary to a conventional math class, or as a stand-alone program for learning math.