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Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: My students don’t spend a lot of time in my classroom. Is this the best use of instructional time if their goal is to “get in and get out” as quickly as possible?


Q: Is there an ideal level for the EMPower series?

Q: I have classes that are widely multi-level. Can this work?

Q: Will I hear comments such as “Can’t we go back to the old way”? How do I respond?


Q: Q: My students don’t spend a lot of time in my classroom. Is this the best use of instructional time if their goal is to “get in and get out” as quickly as possible? Shouldn’t I spend whatever time they have on a program designed to

prepare them for college placement or high school equivalency tests?

A: The National Center for Education and the Economy launched an intense study

of the mathematics students need to be college and career ready. They determined

that middle school math is vital for success in nine different programs offered at

community colleges. They based their assessment on texts and exams from programs

including nursing, accounting, and criminal justice. Though middle school math—

fractions, decimals, percents, ratio, and proportion—are taught, they are not learned

well. Teaching these concepts so that learners have a true foundation rather than a

shaky, passing familiarity with a number of topics and procedures will enable students

to meet their long-term goals.


Q: Is there an ideal level for the EMPower series?

A: The EMPower Student Book pages include situations and instructions that require some proficiency in written English. Students who test at NRS low and high intermediate levels or grades 4-7 grade level equivalency in mathematics are the best candidates for EMPower. Such students may have some familiarity with basic operations and know some number facts but might be unable to retain some basic operations and know some number facts but might be unable to retain some procedures or perform them accurately or reliably.

Students at a higher level can benefit from EMPower if they have trouble getting started on a problem on their own, or if they are anxious and shut down when they see equations that look complicated. EMPower sets them up to be more independent, to test multiple solution paths, and to feel more confident in being flexible with numbers.

 

Q: I have classes that are widely multi-level. Can this work?

A: Many teachers see a wide range of levels within a group as an obstacle. Turn the range of levels to your advantage. Focus on students’ representations. This gives everyone the chance to see that answers emerge in several ways. Slowing down deepens understanding and avoids facile responses. Having calculators available can even the playing field. 

Q: Will I hear comments such as “Can’t we go back to the old way”? How do I respond?

A: Change is unsettling, especially for students who are accustomed to math classes

where their job is to work silently on a worksheet solving problems by following

a straightforward example. Be clear about the reasons why you have chosen to

de-emphasize some of the traditional ways of teaching in favor of this approach.

Ultimately, you may need to agree to some changes to accommodate students’ input.

Meanwhile, reiterate for students what they have accomplished. When there is an

“Aha!” moment, point it out.

See the prerequisites for more information