Middle school science teachers Beth Manning, Juliana Reese-Clauson and Wayne Wheatley shared with parents how they are implementing mastery learning strategies into the middle school science curriculum.
Mastery learning is a method in which students progress through units at their own pace and are allowed to reassess their understanding until they achieve a certain threshold of understanding prior to moving to the next level. This is a building block approach to learning with an emphasis on a greater understanding of the subject rather than rote learning.
Students are given a grid with topics, various learning activities and materials, accompanied by a calendar to follow where they should be by a certain date. If all levels are completed prior to the goal date, the student may progress to an enrichment activity to further explore the topic.
Parents were invited to visit Ms. Manning's fifth grade class to see the grid method in action. Afterward, they shared feedback through the same technology the students utilize. Parents were impressed by the high level of engagement of the students, the energetic yet calm classroom environment and the enthusiasm of both the teachers and students.
The method creates a dynamic classroom and allows teachers to spend more time with the students individually.
"It calms the limbic system,” says Jed Silverstein, director of studies & professional development. In other words, it reduces anxiety, as the children know expectations, deadlines and the path to assistance if needed.