City College Academy of the Arts, New York City Department of Education

eMATH Curricula Provides Scaffolded Learning for Students

Siaka Kone has been a math teacher at City College Academy of the Arts (CCAA) in New York City for 12 years. CCAA is a 6-12 early college school with a 98% graduation rate where students graduate with as much as two years of college credit in partnership with City College of New York.

Siaka has been using eMATHinstruction (eMATH) curricula for five years to prepare his students for college courses. He uses eMATH because it is accessible for students. He says the scaffolding provided in the eMATH lessons allows students to engage with the curriculum and advance through the material effectively. Each lesson and each exercise within a lesson builds upon previous concepts and prior knowledge and includes fluency, application, and reasoning problems. Units early in each course set the foundation, while later units develop more abstract concepts.

Due to the intentionality and scaffolding of the lessons, Siaka says he doesn’t need to provide as much direct instruction for students and can focus on guiding students through the exercises and engaging in discussions about the concepts.

I’m a big eMATH fan. I like the way eMATHinstruction is scaffolded. It takes the kids from a place of comfort and eases them into the concept. It allows the teacher to step back and allow the students to discover the concept based on prior knowledge.

Siaka Kone, Mathematics Teacher

eMATH Implementation

I don’t have to do as much direct instruction as I used to. You could be on your first day in an Algebra I class, you look at that first lesson and that first exercise, you should be able to do it. The first exercise is always something they’re comfortable with and then progressively they get to discover the new concepts, because it builds onto the previous concepts that they know. I used to stand in front of the class and lecture. But with eMATH, I don’t have to do that and that’s something that I really like.

Siaka Kone, Mathematics Teacher
Bar graph: Economically Disadvantaged 87%, Students with Disabilities 20%, English Language Learners 9%, Homeless 11%, Caucasian/White 3%, African American/Black 3%, Hispanic/Latinx 94%, Asian American & Pacific Islander < 1%, Native American/Indigenous 0%.
599 students in grades 6-12

eMATH Videos Allow Students to Preview Lessons

The class periods at CCAA are 45 minutes, which Siaka says can make it challenging for him to cover a full lesson each day. He uses a flipped classroom strategy to address this problem. Videos created by eMATH founder, Kirk Weiler, are available online for all lessons. Siaka assigns the students the lesson video as homework the day before so that students can review the lesson and take notes prior to class. Then in class, Siaka focuses on applying and practicing the concept and answering questions, because students already have an introduction to the concept from the video. He says this approach has allowed him to cover the curriculum efficiently and effectively, while still having time to review concepts students are struggling with in more depth.

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Reading Comprehension is Critical for Math Education

One of the most significant challenges Siaka says his students face in math is actually related to reading. Many students struggle with vocabulary and grammar, which impacts their ability to understand math problems. Siaka believes that he has a role to play in helping students improve their reading comprehension skills and he looks for creative ways to do this in his math classroom, such as having students read aloud the introductory paragraphs for each eMATH lesson and then discussing what it means. He also has students practice using vocabulary words from math problems in new sentences.

Here you are as a teacher wondering why the student cannot process a math problem, thinking the problem is the math, when in fact the problem is reading comprehension. Sometimes the way problems are scripted comes with complex grammatical structure, which is hard for someone to process who isn’t a good reader. I can’t just be a math teacher.”

Siaka Kone, Mathematics Teacher
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