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An Approach to JUMP Math Coaching

Presented at the OCRI-JUMP Math Workshop


Ottawa, Ontario, Nov. 16, 2009
By
Haroon Patel

Mr. Haroon Patel is a retired electrical engineer, who is enjoying his fourth
year as a JUMP Math coach in Ottawa, Ontario. He shares his insights
into the question, “What makes a successful JUMP learning experience?”

This is my personal approach or my framework for coaching JUMP Math.

I think that everyone has a framework for doing things. Sometimes you’re aware of
it and sometimes you’re not, but the framework you use really affects how you do
things. So if you have a framework, you can use it to assess your success or
improve on your success.

For me there are two components: One is what I call the Doing component and the
other what I call the Non-Doing component

DOING

The Doing involves the things I need to do to get the job done. And the job, from a
math perspective, is to develop Foundational skills and Specific skills

I know someone who is an absolutely terrific teacher and just passionate about
math. She teaches high school. The number one problem she encounters daily is
that most students just can’t do basic math, or foundational math, skills that they
should have mastered in the lower grades. So what do I mean when I say
foundational math?

Foundational math skills at the lower levels–


1. means having numeracy skills: manipulating numbers using addition,
subtraction, multiplication etc, and having a feel for numbers -number sense,
and lots of mental math.
2. means knowing strategy and tactics – developing critical thinking.
3. means having focus and paying attention – developing a sense that math is
interesting, or important, or useful or fun stuff
4. means having confidence – saying “Yes, I can do that” or “No, I don’t get it”
5. means having a structured approach to solving problems
5.1. understanding the question
5.2. writing neatly and in an orderly fashion, especially equations
5.3. checking the answer, asking does it make sense

I find myself spending a lot of time developing Foundational skills. If a student is


struggling with Specific skills I sometimes switch immediately to Foundational
skills – not only to re-enforce the underlying skill needed to do the Specific skill,
but also to keep the momentum going.

1
Foundational Skills Tools
For developing Foundational skills (numeracy, critical thinking, focus and interest
in the subject and a structured approach) I use:

1 JUMP Mental Math Handout and JUMP Student Essentials workbook

2 KENKEN (or any other recreational math game)

3 GOFish

4. JUMP Math Basic Number Sense workbook

See Appendix 1 for the details.

SPECIFIC SKILLS

For SPECIFIC skills I start off with the JUMP Fractions workbook of course. Every
now and then I would ask the student if he or she needs help with specific
schoolwork.
Sometimes, and this does not happen often, I ask teachers to identify topics which
require more focus, or give the teacher the JUMP workbook and ask which sections
require particular attention.

STRUCTURE

There is also a STRUCTURAL aspect to the DOING components. Structure helps


you to organize and execute the things you need to get done.

Session Structure
Session structure has to do with what tools in your toolkit you’re going to use for a
particular session. Have variety in your bag of tricks. Variety is good

Ask yourself. What worked last week? What didn’t? What are the gaps?

I want to start off and end off on a happy note. Normally I start and end with a
recreational math game

A typical session may be structured to start off with KenKen, followed by Mental
Math, then Specific skills, and ending with Go Fish. This is not a hard structure;
you can spend more or less time in any section , or skip a section. You can change
the games or the emphasis depending on what your student responds to.

Homework is an option. Every now and then I would give out homework when it
feels right. Sometimes I would give out KenKen as homework. Every student is
different. I had a grade 2 student who loved a point system I used. He got 5 points
every time just for showing up with his homework book, 5 points for actually doing

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H. Patel; Ottawa, ON. November 16, 2009
his homework, and bonus points for excelling. When he reached 100 points he got a
prize.

Teaching Structure
Then there is the structural aspect of teaching Math using the JUMP ethos that
works well, which is
1 Go to a level the student gets and understands and establish confidence
2 Introduce a new small/incremental step, go as small as necessary
3 When the student gets it – make it a success event to be celebrated

Remember as you go along not only is the math skill set being incrementally
enhanced but, and this is important, you are consciously reinforcing the confidence
level. JUMP workbooks are specifically designed to facilitate this structure, which
is why they are so very effective.

Work Structure
This has to do with what structure you use when a student is working through a
problem

Check to see that the student


Understands the problem
If appropriate, has a plan of attack
Is writing neatly and in an orderly fashion
Validates the answer

NON-DOING

The other component of my framework is the NON-DOING part. NON-DOING is


more about myself than about the student. It’s how I measure my success. Bottom
line is that if I succeed at Non-Doing, the Doing part becomes easier.

First a little story


Some time ago, when my daughter was in grade eight, I went to a parent-teacher
meeting. I told the teacher, and my daughter was mortified when she heard this, I
told the teacher that it is not possible to TEACH someone some thing. However, I
said, if the student is receptive, and has an open mind, then anything is possible.

So what did I do when I first started with the JUMP program? I was eager to
TEACH math to a needy kid. I had the Fractions workbook, I would work through
that. I would give out homework every week to re-enforce the lessons learnt. I had
four months before the school year ended. I would get it done in that time, no
problem. I would review the test material thoroughly before the test. Make sure that
the student scored at least 80% in the test.

Clearly I was determined to teach math to this kid.

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H. Patel; Ottawa, ON. November 16, 2009
Big mistake! The objectives I was working on had very little to do with the kid.
These were meeting MY objectives. If I succeeded I would feel good and pat
myself on the back.

Clearly I was pushing the agenda. If the student is not receptive you can’t push your
agenda. The harder you push the greater the resistance you will encounter

In NON-DOING you want to be able to CONNECT to your student at some higher


non-verbal non-action oriented level. If you succeed then you are creating the space
where good things can happen. How?

Be present and in the moment – pay full attention to your student, listen carefully,
be patient, be accepting, and be without prejudice. Now, you will NOT be in the
moment when you have negative thoughts or feelings from the situation you think
you are in. This may arise because your expectations are not being met perhaps
because your student is not interested, not paying attention, still does not get it, is
fooling around, being disrespectful, is bored, suddenly forgotten everything you
ever taught her etc.

The key is to become aware of your own thoughts and feelings. Allow them to
subside. Then assess the situation. If the student is not responding you have to step
back (become aware) and decide whether it’s a concept problem, a confidence
problem, a foundational skill problem or an attention related problem, or even an
“am-I-the-problem” problem.

Remember, don’t focus on outcomes. It does not matter a hoot if the student has
not learnt something in the timeframe you set out for this to happen. This is the
trick. This may sound contradictory because in the Doing you are focused on
outcomes but in the Non-Doing you don’t care about outcomes. If you do focus on
outcomes you will first raise your expectations and then your frustrations. When
you don’t care about outcomes you can more easily create the atmosphere where
good things can happen, where outcomes are possible.

Be ready to laugh and play For me personally JUMP Math is an opportunity to


practice my Non-Doing abilities. And when it works it can be richly satisfying. You
know that you have succeeded when you’re enjoying the moment and especially
when your student is enjoying the moment.

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H. Patel; Ottawa, ON. November 16, 2009
Appendix 1: Tools to Develop Foundational Skills

1 JUMP Mental Math Handout and JUMP Student Essentials workbook


a. Multiplication 1 to 4, 5, 6 (from 5), 9 (fingers trick),10,11, 7 (memorize 7x7,
7x8, 7x12:already have learned 7x [1 through 6] and 7 x [9 through 11] ),
8(memorize 8 x8, 8x12), 12 (memorize 12 x12)
b. Trick for multiplying by 11 for larger numbers: Add pairs of numbers next to
each other, except for the numbers on the edges. Example: 3254×11. The
answer comes from these sums and edge numbers:
(3)(3+2)(2+5)(5+4)(4) = 35794.
c. For addition and subtraction I would sometimes ask for how to solve the
problem rather than the answer to promote analytical skills.
1. E.g. 45 + 18 = Add 20 to 45 then subtract 2.
2. E.g. 43 – 25 = Add 5 (take you 30), add 10’s (take you to 40), add 3
take you to 43. Answer: 43 -25 = 5+10+3 = 18.
3. You can use much higher numbers to develop number sense
e. g. 1023 +129. Remember you can get there by moving in small steps.

2 KenKen
As in sudoku, the goal of each KenKen puzzle is to fill a grid with digits ––e.g. 1
through 4 for a 4×4 grid––so that no digit appears more than once in any row or
column. Additionally, KenKen grids are divided into heavily outlined groups of
cells and the numbers in the cells of each group must produce a certain “target”
number when combined using a specified mathematical operation (addition,
subtraction, multiplication or division).
• Recreational math, have fun – do math without realizing it
• Teaches mental math, strategy, algorithm, trial and error
• You can progress to a higher level
• You can do it together, struggle together.

3 GOFish
• The dealer gives each player six cards (--four cards if skills are very weak). If a
player has any pairs of cards that add to 10, these pairs are placed on the table
before play begins. Player One asks Player Two for a card that adds to 10 when
combined with a card pre-selected from Player One’s hand. For instance, if Player
One has a 3, he may ask Player Two for a 7. If Player Two has the requested card,
the first player takes it and lays it down along with the 3 from his hand. Player
One may then ask for another card. If Player Two doesn’t have the requested card
she says, “Go fish,” and Player One must pick up a card from the top of the deck.
If this card adds to 10 with any card in his hand the pair is placed on the table. It
is then Player Two’s turn to ask for a card. Play ends when one player lays down
the last of his or her cards. Players receive four points for laying down all of their
cards first and one point for each pair they have laid down.
• You can choose a target number higher than 10 by assigning J =11 Q =12 K=13
or J = 21 or 31 etc
• You use points to keep tally of who’s winning/losing over the weeks

4 JUMP Math Basic Number Sense workbook.


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