Special thanks to Deidre Greer, Ph.D., for speaking with Exemplars about her work at Brewer Elementary.
What first attracted you to Exemplars for use with Title I students?
Using Exemplars makes it easier to incorporate the NCTM process standards into every lesson, which is how those standards are intended to be taught. The Exemplars material help make this fact explicit for the teachers (and for my preservice teachers). Because the Exemplars tasks are aligned with state, NCTM and Common Core standards as well as Investigations, it is easy to select tasks that are appropriate with any unit of study.
How does Brewer Elementary specifically use Exemplars material with Title I students?
I am working with the teachers at Brewer this year to incorporate more formative assessment in mathematics. Using Exemplars is one of the ways we are accomplishing this. We are also working on problem solving in general. By using the Exemplars tasks and the scoring rubric, teachers are learning to help students become better at problem solving, reasoning and proof, communication, connections, and representation and to carry over those processes into the Investigations sessions.
What benefits do you think there are to using Exemplars material with Title I students?
The Exemplars tasks have proven to be engaging for our Title I students. Use of the student-scoring rubric helps students understand exactly what is expected of them as they solve problems. This knowledge then carries over to other mathematics tasks.
Have you seen any improvements, and if so, what specifically?
I have definitely seen improvement in students' ability to communicate mathematically. They are able to explain their solutions to problems both orally and in writing. Consequently, their thinking about ways to solve problems has improved as well.
What do Title I students like about Exemplars tasks?
The students usually find the Exemplars tasks very engaging. Most of the students keep working to meet the expectations and some enjoy working toward attaining an "Expert" level of achievement. On one occasion when I was doing a model lesson, I was using an Exemplars task and one of the students asked me, "Why is it when you are here, we keep on trying until we get the answer...?" I attribute part of the students' perseverance to the level of engagement of the Exemplars tasks.