Kim Kellam teaches Accelerated 6/7 Math, Science, and Leadership in the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District in Monterey, California. She met with her BetterLesson Instructional Coach, Kelly Kennefick, for four half-hour virtual coaching sessions this past fall. In the interview below, Kim shares her thoughts on how working with her BetterLesson Instructional Coach has supported her in implementing the Open Up Resources 6–8 Math curriculum and making her classroom more student-centered.
BetterLesson: What shifts did you need to make in your teaching practice when you switched to the Open Up Resources 6–8 Math Curriculum?
Kim Kellam: I needed to make my classroom more student-centered so that I was more of a facilitator rather than someone who teaches procedures to students or uses direct instruction. At first, it was hard to get used to this shift and I relied on my BetterLesson Instructional Coach for support, but it was great to see the students take ownership of their learning and see them be able to talk about math in new ways.
BetterLesson: What was your goal in working with your BetterLesson coach?
Kim Kellam: I worked with Kelly to understand the design principles of the curriculum and to talk about how best to support my students which, in turn, supported the daily lesson planning and implementation of the curriculum. I also relied on Kelly as a thought-partner as I learned the Open Up Resources 6–8 Math curriculum. When I noticed a challenge in the classroom, I would make a mental note to discuss it with Kelly at our next meeting in order to think of strategies or Mathematical Language Routines together that would be personalized for my students’ needs.
BetterLesson: Describe what you and your coach worked on together. What was its impact in your classroom?
Kim Kellam: To begin our work together, Kelly and I created a vision and set goals around which I would like to successfully implement this new curriculum. During our first call, Kelly and I discussed what was going well and what was challenging about implementing the curriculum. By asking me questions, Kelly supported me to narrow down and focus on pacing. Specifically, we decided to focus on the guided notes section of the curriculum because I felt like it was taking a long time for students to complete their notes and for me to check that they were correct. With this challenge in mind, we decided to transfer ownership to students for note taking and corrections by providing students with color-coded revisions and the use of a timer, specifically to stay on track for each part of the curriculum (warm up, activities, lesson synthesis, cool down). By transferring ownership to the students, it helped students take accountability and helped me stay on pace.
As we continued to focus on pace, I also wanted to think of ways to support students to be aware of their progress or advocate for additional help. Using Marzano’s practice, a four point rating scale that Kelly introduced to me, my students put their exit ticket in the folder that corresponded to their self-assessment score. I built on this practice by using the Marzano’s practice language throughout the lessons and providing students with multiple opportunities to self-assess. This has supported my students to take ownership over their learning. I also frequently check in with students around their ratings to know which skills are feeling challenging for students so that I can provide differentiated support.
While these strategies may seem simple, they have now become the core of my daily procedures. They are how I think about and plan my instruction, how I focus my lessons, and how I have my students own their learning and assess their own progress.
BetterLesson: How has the Open Up Resources 6-8 Math and BetterLesson Coaching impacted students? What student outcomes are a result?
Kim Kellam: Open Up Resources 6-8 Math has given my students a platform to learn given problem based and real life scenario situations. The problems presented are always related to something the students can access, or have experienced before, taking away the dreaded question of “When am I going to use this?”. Through my BetterLesson coaching, I have been able to learn teaching strategies such as Marzano’s practice and ways to review in class notes which I have been able to bring to my students. Marzano’s practice has given students an opportunity to self reflect, as well as an opportunity for me to know when I need to re-teach.
BetterLesson: How has BetterLesson Coaching supported you with the implementation of the Open Up Resources 6–8 Math Curriculum?
Kim Kellam: Overall, our work these four sessions has supported me to feel that I am on my way to reaching my vision. Sometimes, teachers feel like when they have to implement a new curriculum, the curriculum is given to them and they are on their own. But, in working with my BetterLesson coach, Kelly, I had someone to work through the implementation with and I did not feel alone. When challenges came up in the classroom, I would make a mental note to bring it up with Kelly and we would come up with solutions together. Having someone else to go through the process with has been monumental for me, and having a community of support is what makes me want to continue with this new curriculum.
BetterLesson: How has BetterLesson coaching supported you to move to a more student-centered math classroom?
Kim Kellam: Through working with Kelly to roll out this curriculum in my classroom, I feel like I am now more of a facilitator of my students’ learning and my classroom is more student-centered. The curriculum encourages students to take ownership of the math and discover it on their own. Open Up Resources 6–8 Math and BetterLesson have given me the tools to facilitate this type of student-centered math in my classroom.