Karen Brenneman, a teacher at Burlington High School in Wisconsin, wanted a method of addressing the individual needs of each student so they could progress at their own pace through course materials.
Brenneman introduced Maple T.A., an online testing and assessment system, into her geometry classes to allow students to work through lessons and complete practice questions and assignments according to their skill level. This also enabled her to evaluate each student’s progression and identify areas of weakness.
Brenneman was able to use a variety of question types in Maple T.A. to accurately assess the level of understanding of her students and adapt lessons appropriately to meet their individual needs. Based on the success of Maple T.A. in her geometry classes, the high school is now using Maple T.A. in their algebra courses as well.
Like most teachers, one of the biggest tasks high school mathematics instructor Karen Brenneman faces at Burlington High School, in Burlington, Wisconsin, US, is challenging and advancing each student according to his or her unique skill level. Moving students through the lessons and assignments at the same pace results in boredom among the advanced students while weaker students get overwhelmed with new information before they have fully understood the previous topics. As a consequence, bright students are held back while weaker students fall even further behind. To help her students to progress at their own pace and skill levels, Brenneman started using Maple T.A. in her geometry classes.
Brenneman identified the specific skills she needed her students to learn, and created Maple T.A. questions to evaluate each skill. She uses these questions in a large set of quizzes, tests, and practice problems to determine when each student has mastered the necessary skills. Informative assessments are offered early on in each topic to identify students who have mastered the concepts. These students are allowed to move on to other activities. She can then focus her time on helping the students who are struggling, ensuring that they are not pushed ahead before they have a solid foundation of understanding to build on. “Students who were very reluctant and thought math was just impossible can be given challenges at a level that is right for them,” said Brenneman. “Maple T.A. makes math attainable for every student, even the ones that struggle. At the same time, students with more advanced skills can work on advanced material.”
Brenneman found that one of the most valuable features in Maple T.A. is its ability to offer instant feedback â€“ showing students immediately what they did correctly, and where they went wrong. “Maple T.A. allows me to give immediate feedback so that students don’t persist in wrong ideas,” she said. “Instead, they look at the feedback and start asking questions, then retake the assessment. This approach allows students at every level to be challenged and experience success.”
Brenneman found that using Maple T.A. helped her truly assess students’ understanding of concepts. She said, “Unlike multiple choice tests, the questions you can develop with Maple T.A. are so diverse, meaningful, and engaging that they can provide the depth of questions necessary to assess critical thinkers.” In this project, she used a variety of Maple T.A. question types, including open-ended math response, numeric response, graph sketching, fill-in-the-blank, and adaptive questions.
After their success with the geometry course, the high school has expanded their use of Maple T.A. to include their algebra courses as well. Brenneman concluded, “Teachers are continually expected to do more and more with less and less, and Maple T.A. has greatly reduced our grading burden so that we can spend more time actually teaching.”
The over 1200 questions developed by Brenneman and her colleagues at Burlington High School are available to other Maple T.A. users through the Maple T.A. Cloud.
Listen to Karen Brenneman as she outlines the advantages of using
Maple T.A. in her high school.
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