The Bootstrap Blog

Bootstrap and Students with Special Needs

This blog post is shared by Les Schaefer, a public school teacher from Colorado.

Currently, I am teaching a pilot class called Math Applications 1. It was designed to meet the academic needs of 12th grade students that struggle with mathematics. To put more structure around the curriculum, I am incorporating Bootstrap Algebra (semester 1) and Bootstrap Data Science (semester 2). This pilot class was developed after I attended a five day Bootstrap workshop at the 2019 CSPWeek in Golden, CO.

The class is divided into two sections, with enrollment approximately 30 in each section. The class is open to any student who is in need of math remediation credits. The typical student enrolled have passed Algebra 1, but struggled greatly to pass. Math Applications 1 follows a project based learning style, where the philosophy is mastery of the topics. Therefore, grades can be improved at any point of the course.

One thing that I have noticed is the large number of students with sped IEPs. In almost all cases, these students fall under the category of Special Learning Disability.

Specific Learning Disability (SLD)

Definition: Specific Learning Disability means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. Specific learning disability does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of: visual, hearing, or motor disabilities; intellectual disability; serious emotional disability; cultural factors; environmental or economic disadvantage; or limited English proficiency.

These students have the opportunity for extra time on tests and assignments, and availability to go to their case carrier for testing. In the past months, I have seen 'joy' in learning algebra in these students. One students told me that they have never done so well in a math class. Another student completes his projects early and helps others with their projects. Students who typically are placed in math classes and literally 'hate' being there are doing very well in this class and, most importantly, having excitement in what they are learning. Each class has an adult aide who also enjoys learning bootstrap algebra along with the students.

Case carriers and excited about the opportunities their students now have to learn something new, gain better study skills, and enjoy math in a very fun and different way. Some recent comments from our case carriers:

"The class is designed to assist the kid who just got through algebra I, and challenge the kid who has taken geometry, algebra II, and is looking to stay in math, but doesn't really want to move on to calculus."

"It was fun getting into his class; he's really excited about the program. I really appreciated the time that he gave me to explain everything. So, bottom line, encourage your students to continue to give 100% in the class. They will see the benefits, if not today, for certain in the future!"

"It is a pleasure to see how Bootstrap is working to meet the needs of all students in mathematics."

Posted September 27th, 2019