Martian bacteria and pennies

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I have previously put forth my opinion that true differentiated instruction requires the ability to use and teach different materials. This year, I have been required to teach exactly the same math to all my students. I am allowed to work on remedial math in blocks of essentially nonexistent time, especially if I can somehow do this in small groups, but my students are all supposed to take the exact same probability test at the end of the week. They all take the same unit tests designed by a group of outside consultants as well. I think this same-material-for-everybody approach is bonkers.

From today’s instruction, I offer this example to show in a nutshell why one-size-does-not-fit-all. The two middle-school students below are in the same class with me twice a day, once for math and once for science:

Student A: Ms. Q, if there are bacteria on Mars, would they be dangerous to us if we went there?

Student B (while we were tossing coins, making a probability chart): Ms. Q, which one is heads and which one is tails?

Eduhonesty: My scary unit tests results don’t surprise me much, if at all. I’m managing to teach a great deal of the required math for the year. But some kids are not ready for that grade-level math. Trust me.