- "Kids are lazy."
- "They just won't try."
- "Student's don't care."

But what if we could teach in a way that reduces student apathy?

### The 70/30 Rule

One of the best ideas for improving student confidence is the 70/30 rule. The big idea is to allow kids 70% of the time to feel confident so that you can push them forward and stretch their knowledge 30% of the time. This idea was from Allan Bellman during his presentation on *Classroom Level Assessments that Determine and Meet Student Needs* at the NCTM conference in Chicago.

This may be the biggest tool that will help us achieve the Common Core Curriculum within our classrooms. It is always so easy to shift one way or the other.

We don't want the content to come so easy that we will never meet the standards or so hard that students quit trying. (And we will never meet the standards.)

### Same skill, different problems

The other big idea of Allan's is that it is OK to give kids different problems to meet their needs within a class period. I love this idea and have been coming up with some ideas to implement this in my classroom.

### Layering your lessons

Students, especially in math, are often insecure. They need to feel that they can achieve. Don't we all? One of our biggest challenges as math teachers is creating a sense of confidence in our students.

This is something I take great pride in and always have a goal in my classroom. But the craziness can keep all of us from achieving this goal. We must stay focused because the cost is too high.

Thank you for sharing! I love the 70/30 idea. Definitely, one of my students' problems is lack of confidence. They don't view themselves as adequate math students. I am also introducing systems this week. My students did well with our slope unit, but struggled greatly with our linear equations unit. So I know we will have some issues with systems. Before Monday I'm going to rethink the 70/30 idea to be sure we start with confidence building!

Thank you so much for your comment. I hope this idea helps you with your classroom. I am excited to see what it does with mine 🙂

By the way, I really like your blog. You are extremely honest! I appreciate that so much.

Stay in touch!

Confidence is what I continue to strive for. It is the most difficult thing to get your students to feel ...is confident in math. They have developed from an early age an antagonism/unhappiness with math. It does require a lot of work and perseverence and striving for the correct ways to solve the problem to get the correct answer. I am willing to keep trying to work on this because if I do not gain ground on this, I will lose my students. I don't want that. I want them all to achieve all they can in math.

Patricia,

I love how your love of your students always shows! I could not agree more with your statements!

Thanks for the positive support. I am trying for my students to be successful.

One of those ideas that are 'obvious' once you've read it, thought about it and taken it on board :). I also like constructive 'wrong' answers ie can we see if that will work? no - it doesn't, but wow! look at all the ideas it's thrown (I have classes where I'm praying for a child to come up with a certain wrong answer, and get my lesson plan seriously de-railed if the first kid asked gets the right answer). Also - Patricia, I taught (have just retired) an unusual cohort (GAT kids) but there are many, many problems where there are a number of ways of getting the right answer, and after 20 years I could be sooo smug knowing (probably) them all - cos previous years' kids had shown me better methods than my original thoughts

Katherine,

I love your "constructive wrong answer" comment. It is extremely valid and helpful! Thank you for your comments.

Jeanette

Katharine, I have had a talk with my principal this fall. She said that some kids say I only allow them to work the problem "my" way. What they are not seeing at that point in time is the fact I am trying to teach them yet another way to solve the problem. They don't seem to want to try another way when they way they do it works. I am trying to ask on tests to solve a problem three different ways, so my students will try to be more flexible. I am trying to be flexible and open to their ideas as well. Thanks, for your input; I truly appreciate it.

Patricia, I have also had this problem in the past. One way I got around the issue is to create problems or numbers that "lean" towards a certain way to solve.

For example, if I am solving simple equations that they want to do in their head, I will add negatives or decimals that make it easy to mix up without showing their work.

I hope this helps. Hang in there!

I have never heard of the 70/30 rule, but it makes sense! I recently started working with my students on having a growth mindset in math. A Stanford professor offers a free online course for students on http://www.youcubed.org

Thank you so much for sharing. We have been focusing on a growth mindset too. It makes sense that when kids want and believe that they can do better, things are easier and they learn quicker.

In addition to the many efforts, including the 70/30 rule is hampered, in my opinion, due to supression of logic in early childhood even before first grade. This is done inadvertently with no harm intended by parents and friends. Children are also fed junk from TV and other electronic gadgets without developing critical thinking skills to disect the infomrmation. Therefore, when you reached the level where you are being asked to find, fir example, the zeroes for a third degree polynomial, all those logical steps scares and can turn off way too many students. Also, I see the lack of critical thinking skills in the larger society. For example, everyone knows that presidential elections voting is held the first Tuesday in November. However, if a rumor circulates that the election is moved to Wednesday, many people will not even question the rumor and simply will go to the poles on Wednesday. I am rambling because I feel that crtical thinking skills and logic are directly related to mathematics, especially algebra. We can control larger society, but we can do other things in our teaching to help the children. Keep up the good work!

I really want to view your webinar on this but your dates listed for 8/5 and 8/6 are not convenient. Will you have other dates or post for later viewing?

Yes Cheryl, There will be other times available. Jump on after the weekend and see what is available or feel free to sign up for either time and I can also send you a replay. 🙂

Have a great weekend!

Will this webinar be available to view at a later date? I am not available on 10/21 or 10/22 but very interested.

Absolutely Ann! Feel free to drop me an e-mail and I will send you a link to a future presentation. Please use jeanette@algebra1teachers.com

What time zone are the times in?

The times listed are in EST.

How long is the webinar please?

The training is approximately 45 minutes. Hope to see you there!

Thank you for the article. The 70/30 rule is one of the best. Building confidence is vital though sometimes, requires time and effort. I think the best way to build confidence is to let the student work on assignments and activities that he/she best understands. It is a game of playing with ones mind. Once he/she establishes, in his/her mind, that he/she understands the concept, the goal is achieved, confidence is built. Your next step is now work on the 30%, introduce the new concept. Then build the confidence on that new concept. A repeated application of the 70/30 rule will yield the fruits.

Allan Bellman was my dissertation chair at Ole Miss.....he is awesome, and I agree with him that we should help the kids to be confident before we push them.....but I think that the percentages are adjustable based on who you are teaching.

The move toward conceptual teaching over skills-based teaching has hurt our kids, but this will help. Have a great day, Jeannette!

Doug