In collaboration with their principal, Steve Emery, Grade 1 teachers at GEMS have been engaging in a “lesson study model” in math. Lesson study is a model of embedded professional development that allows teachers to look at their practices and student learning results in a particular area. As a team, the teachers determine their “study lesson”, which is an actual lesson coming up in one of their classrooms featuring a particular math strategy (e.g. differentiating math instruction using Math Menu). Then, the grade level team observes the lesson and later meets together to debrief their observations.


When I joined the observation group, I noted the menu groupings for “Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner” already on the white board. The classroom teacher, Mrs. MacKenzie and the Math Specialist, Mrs. Mitiguy set the group expectations and time frames with all of the first grade students. As the students moved from the rug, Mrs. Mitiguy called out, “I need my lunch crowd to come to the table!” Students quickly moved about; clearly, they were anxious to get started!


The first group of first graders I joined was at the “Breakfast Table.”  They explained to me that Breakfast was a math game to practice something in math; Lunch is work with a teacher on the math; and Dinner is a problem to solve. As I moved to observe other tables, I heard one of the first graders say, “I am excited to see what we can make!”


Although only two of the groups worked directly with a teacher, the independent groups got on task quickly and knew what they needed to do. The groups lasted about 15 minutes and then moved to another math meal.


It was exciting to see intentionally-designed teacher learning happening concurrently with intentionally-designed student learning. I was struck by how much the Math Menu had in common with other “workshop models”, such as Readers and Writers Workshop, and how powerful those routines had become for students. Very little time is lost figuring out what you’re supposed to do as a student; the routines are clear and largely managed by the students themselves quite effectively.


The work of teachers to find creative ways to continuously learn provided much food for thought…and I would say a math class featuring math menu leaves everyone’s brains pretty full, too!

Target 1 – Proficiency-Based Personalized Learning. FWSU students and staff design and engage in proficiency-based personalized learning that integrates collaborative inquiry, problem solving, and creativity.

Action Step – Support proficiency for all learners in student-centered, collaborative, digitally -rich learning environments.

Indicators of Success – Teachers customize their instructional strategies using a range of information about individual learners so that learning opportunities are matched to learner needs, strengths, and interests. Teachers provide learners with multiple pathways for meeting standards so that students achieve proficiency in essential areas of learning.




Linda Keating is the Director of Curriculum at FWSU. She is a regular contributor to the FWSU Blog. You can follow her on Twitter @Educate4ward


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