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Readying Students for Rigor in the Modern Classroom

education best practicesReadying Students for Rigor in the Modern Classroom

February 11, 2020

Welcome to the Modern Math Classroom

We spoke with several teachers, tutors, and education journalists, and they all agree: teaching math in K-12 classrooms has changed significantly over the past several decades!

How? The advent of Common Core and state standards has been a major factor. Notably, they have introduced a renewed emphasis on instructional rigor. This “rigor” centers around helping individual students develop sophisticated ways of understanding complex material through authentic, real-world learning. Math educators are now increasingly expected to impart deep conceptual understanding, procedural skills, and application fluency with equal intensity. On top of this, high-stakes standardized testing has also pushed educators to approach their curriculum in a more comprehensive way.

If these are unfamiliar concepts, we’ll get to explaining them in just a moment! It's all to say that the modern classroom is far from the days of memorizing formulas and doing repetitive piles of practice problems.

Child next to stacks of paper

Thankfully, today’s teachers are empowered by advances in instructional methodologies that promote 21st Century skills such as active learning. These teachers have turned the modern math classroom into a practical, hands-on laboratory for helping students develop conceptual mastery. To achieve conceptual mastery, students have to learn how to apply math to real-world scenarios. It's not just rattling off facts and figures!

Child looking at a smartphone and writing in his notebook

These changes have helped students take a more active role in their own learning and connect it to the real world. Despite these positive outcomes, many students still associate math with stress and confusion. Recent research indicates that “math anxiety” is prevalent in middle and secondary classrooms. In fact, nearly half of students surveyed reported “moderate to high” levels of math anxiety!

While the last few decades have seen advances in instruction, efforts at inclusion, and a plethora of supports and scaffolds, math class can still make a lot of students uncomfortable. This discomfort can cause real consequences and may contribute to compromised self-esteem and lower test scores. Unaddressed, it can eventually play a role in diminished career and college opportunities.

Yes, this is concerning, but we certainly don’t mean to make the concept of math anxiety one more thing for parents and students to stress about! Indeed, every brain is a math brain and every student can thrive in math. Students and their families now have greater access than ever to innovative learning and tutoring resources that can help. One of these is the Yup Math Tutoring App, which was built from the ground up to foster conceptual mastery and help all students succeed in the modern math classroom.

“Do You Have Homework Tonight?”

Learning math doesn’t end when students leave the classroom. So of course, neither does math anxiety! Building math skills requires independent practice from students, either at home or in another individual or small-group study scenario. Outside of the classroom, with teacher support diminished or entirely removed, students may struggle to overcome the anxiety associated with doing homework or studying for tests.

The good news is that extra help is available to students outside the classroom. This could come from family members at home, peer study groups, online in the form of free websites, or tutoring provided by the school. This additional support is a boon to many students, but can be fraught with unintentional challenges that roadblock progress towards understanding.

The idea that extra help could be a “roadblock” might seem counter-intuitive, but recent research indicates it may be the case! A few examples:

How Yup Bridges the Instructional Gap

Child walking across a footbridge

Yup aims to help students of all abilities build long-term math skills and confidence. We understand the stress that students face with math and the necessity of consistent outside support that complements classroom learning.

Our mission is to help every student thrive. To accomplish this, we provide accessible, effective, and engaging tutoring that meets each individual student where they are at in their development and application of math skills. Our mobile app connects vetted expert tutors with students to help them build conceptual understanding, become more confident, and feel less anxious.

To use the Yup Math Tutoring App, students take a picture of the math problem or concept they’re working on, connect to a tutor in under 60 seconds, and start working to solve the problem together. Yup was developed out of Stanford University and has deep roots in the education community. As a result, we are uniquely positioned to support and extend the instruction of today’s math classroom. Our tutors use proven teaching methods to understand, guide, and compassionately challenge students to build the skills they need to thrive.

Here are 3 of the ways in which the Yup Tutoring App helps to bridge the gap between classroom instruction and independent practice...

1. Yup Boosts Confidence by Building a Growth Mindset

Thanks to our Academic Advisory Board and Learning Team, Yup tutors continuously receive up-to-date best practices. For example, they learn how to ask guiding questions and use encouraging language that fosters active learning and builds a Growth Mindset. They are experts in virtual teaching and know how to provide an anxiety-reducing learning environment tailored to individual student needs.

Yup tutors interact with students in a familiar medium (over text), in a private and collaborative 1:1 learning environment. This personalized learning experience helps build up the communication, critical-thinking, and problem-solving skills common in a modern math classroom.

Child in classroom with raised hand

2. Yup Supports Students with Personalized Instruction

Yup tutors approach each session with a focus on helping students take charge of their own learning. They work hard at accommodating varying learning styles and engaging with each individual student at their own level.

Students who might otherwise hesitate to engage fully in math class due to peer anxiety or competence beliefs thrive in the personal, 1:1 interactivity of the Yup virtual classroom. Yup’s Smart Matching technology connects students to the best tutor for their individual needs. Messaging, photo sharing, and a virtual whiteboard allow Yup tutors to guide students in finding answers to specific problems. Session notes give students a chance to review everything they’ve learned whenever they need it.

The outcome is a personalized, supportive approach to helping students grow a sustainable, long-term relationship with math. We know personalized learning does more than just produce better grades (although that is a welcome benefit!)

"Thanks, we are very grateful for the help we got from you guys, Yup has been very beneficial for our daughter Olivia. She is thriving in her Geometry class much better than last year's Algebra class. We would recommend Yup to any other family with children that need a little extra help or perhaps just a slightly different perspective on challenging math subjects."

— Jeff, father of Olivia

3. Yup Emphasizes Concept Mastery Over Giving Easy Answers

Yup’s teaching philosophy centers around concept mastery. The heart of our approach is a consistent pedagogy that supports and extends the application of concepts. Our tutors do much more than just help with homework. They facilitate true understanding with guided questioning rooted in Socratic inquiry. Socratic inquiry helps students achieve the right solution through active participation and critical thinking rather than simply giving away the answer.

This form of active learning fills in the knowledge gaps that block students from embracing and applying the rigor of modern math. Yup’s focus on concept mastery, or the ability to independently articulate and progressively apply rigorous mathematical knowledge at a high rate of success, drives better outcomes in the form of higher grades, improved understanding, and less math anxiety.

Would you like to gain a better understanding of how Yup can bridge the gap between math classes and independent practice? See some examples of actual Yup tutoring sessions.

When you’re ready, get your student working with a Yup tutor today


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