DIFFICULTY #1: INFORMATION RETENTION
Cyclical Repetition of Key Concepts:
Within the Focused Instructional Model, during daily “warm-up” activities, students are given the opportunity to explore their thinking on two math problems. For about 5 minutes they try to solve each of the problems (whether or not they have prior experience with the skills required to arrive at a solution). As long as students put forth effort and attempt to solve each problem, they receive positive reinforcement and sometimes points in the gradebook. This helps students understand that this is a safe place for them to take a risk and be creative in the ways they attempt to solve the problems. Teachers circulate during this warm-up time to get a feel for which strategies are being utilized by students and so they know how they should address the problem when it’s time to move to the “solution box.” They mark papers with stars or stickers to acknowledge student effort and provide that positive reinforcement.
After the 5 minutes of effort, the teacher provides a “think aloud” and offers one way to solve each of the two problems. Students copy down what the teacher does in their own solution box and they compare what they did in the top box (effort) to what their teacher did in the bottom box (solution). They can make connections between their work and the work of their teacher.
The daily warm-ups preview upcoming important information and review previously learned key concepts. The cyclical repetition of the most important concepts from each grade level help solidify the concepts in the minds of the students.